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Species of Concern

 

Proceedings from a Cerulean Warbler Risk Assessment & Conservation Planning Workshop

pdf version

National Conservation Training Center
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
June 12 – 14, 2006

INTRODUCTION

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service convened a panel of experts to discuss Cerulean Warbler biology as it relates to addressing two impending management decisions. One, the Service has until the fall of 2006 to decide whether to propose Cerulean Warbler for protection as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Two, the FWS Migratory Birds program has selected Cerulean Warbler as a “focal species” for measuring its success in bird conservation and has set a deadline of September 30, 2006, for development of a Conservation Action Plan for the species. This Plan will reinforce Cerulean Warbler objectives and priorities of Partners in Flight, the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group, Joint Ventures, and other partners by guiding the Service's internal budget allocation process and helping to catalyze other budget initiatives on behalf of Cerulean Warblers.

 

METHODS

We broke down the overarching management decisions into smaller pieces and converted key management questions into analogous biological questions. Key areas of inquiry that emerged were: (1) historical population size and trends, (2) future population trend, (3) factors causing the population trend, (4) appropriate population goals, and (5) conservation actions to achieve desired population goals. The agenda focused on these five broad areas of biological interest (Appendix 1).

 

We convened a workshop at the National Conservation Training Center, on June 12, 13, and 14, 2006. Cerulean Warbler experts, quantitative and general ornithologists, and experts in land use participated on a panel (Appendix 2). We reviewed available information, facilitated discussions about available information, conducted scoring exercises to characterize uncertainty and elicit discussions, and evaluated options for answering critical biological questions in the face of uncertainty. We did not seek consensus among panelists; instead, we focused on fully probing and understanding the bases for, and extent of, differences of opinion or interpretation. Discussions at the workshop focused on scientific and technical information. Panelists did not discuss or recommend management decisions related to the Endangered Species Act, but they provided input on potential conservation actions for consideration when drafting the Focal Species Action Plan.

 

Other participants in the workshop included Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, and outside observers who served as peer reviewers of the process (Appendix 3). Four Fish and Wildlife Service biologists facilitated the workshop, and another three were silent observers to the process. The independent observers monitored the workshop and informed the meeting facilitators if they observed biases in workshop design, facilitation, or unbalanced participation from panelists. Meeting notes taken by the independent observers are included in Appendices 4a, 4b, and 4c (all PDF documents).

 

We broke the workshop into two sections. The first section included a day of presentations by some panelists and other invited experts. The second section, on days 2 and 3, was a facilitated workshop. During the workshop section, we asked panelists a variety of questions and quantified their beliefs about the certainty with which they could answer questions. Panelists received numerical identifiers during the first exercise. We used these identifiers instead of names throughout the workshop to preserve anonymity of the panelists. Our facilitators used the distribution of anonymous scores to elicit discussion about why there are similarities or differences in beliefs. The purpose of this method was to identify sources of information and knowledge used by panelists when drawing conclusions about Cerulean Warblers, and to discuss the assumptions panelists were using where information was unavailable or uncertainty was high. Panelists had opportunities to re-score exercises after the discussions.

 

This document describes the proceedings, presents the raw scores, and summarizes the discussions elicited during the workshop. It also contains sections containing interpretations of the discussions, which we produced after the workshop and present as separate boxes highlighted in yellow. Contents of this document follow the order of the agenda: (1) presentations, (2) historical population size and trend, (3) life history, (4) limiting factors and threats, (5) future population trend, and (5) conservation goals and actions.

 

Proceedings from a Cerulean Warbler Risk Assessment and Conservation Planning Workshop conducted at National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, June 12 – 14, 2006: 26 pages, 248KB.

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Last updated: December 1, 2009