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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Population and Habitat Objectives for Avian Conservation in California's Central Valley Riparian Ecosystems


Riparian ecosystems provide important ecosystem services and recreational opportunities for people, and habitat for wildlife. In California’s Central Valley, government agencies and private organizations are working together to protect and restore riparian ecosystems, and the Central Valley Joint Venture provides leadership in the formulation of goals and objectives for avian conservation in riparian ecosystems. We defined a long-term conservation goal as the establishment of riparian ecosystems that provide sufficient habitat to support genetically robust, self-sustaining, and resilient bird populations. To achieve this goal, we selected a suite of 12 breeding riparian landbird focal species as indicators of the state of riparian ecosystems in each of four major Central Valley planning regions. Using recent bird survey data, we estimated that over half of the regional focal species populations are currently small (< 10,000) and may be vulnerable to extirpation, and two species have steeply declining population trends. For each focal species in each region, we defined long-term (100-year) population objectives that are intended to be conservation endpoints that we expect to meet the goal of genetically robust, self-sustaining, and resilient populations. We then estimated the long-term species density and riparian restoration objectives required to achieve the long-term population objectives. To track progress toward the long-term objectives, we propose short-term (10- year) objectives, including the addition of 12,919 ha (31,923 ac) of riparian vegetation in the Central Valley (by planning region: 3,390 ha in Sacramento, 2,390 ha in Yolo–Delta, 3,386 ha in San Joaquin, and 3,753 ha in Tulare). We expect that reaching these population, density, and habitat objectives through threat abatement, habitat restoration, and habitat enhancement will result in improvements to riparian ecosystem function and resilience that will benefit other wildlife populations and the people of the Central Valley and beyond.

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