The IWMM Approach

Sustaining healthy populations of waterbirds that migrate long distances is a major challenge for land managers. Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) is helping meet that challenge through a multi-scaled conservation approach that integrates monitoring, modeling, and decision support to optimize wetland management in ways that support continental populations of waterbirds.

The program focuses on waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds during migration and winter, and brings together managers, scientists, and conservation partners from multiple regions. Essential elements of the program include goals in 3 focal areas: 1) Modeling and Decision Support, 2) Monitoring, and 3) Data Management.

Modeling and Decision Support

Goal is to develop scientifically rigorous, quantitative models linking alternative habitat management decisions to anticipated outcomes for waterbirds. Key components are:

  • An integrated model that links and optimizes management decisions at three spatial scales: local, regional, and flyway
  • A local decision support model that guides and informs the coordinated management of habitat at multiple units across a landscape to maximize benefits for waterbirds.


Goal is to provide protocols for data collection that will inform decision support models for waterbird management, and that facilitate an adaptive management approach. These protocols:

  • Track waterbird use, habitat conditions and management actions simultaneously
  • Standardize and coordinate waterbird and habitat monitoring for potential aggregation at larger scales
  • Provide data for testing alternative models, updating parameter estimates and evaluating habitat management effectiveness relative to waterbird management objectives

Data Management

Goal is to provide a centralized online database that stores, manages, and reports waterbird, habitat, and management action data for sampling units located across multiple flyways.

  • The database is a thematic node of the Avian Knowledge Network that supports station-level monitoring, simplifies data entry, and enhances decision making, data sharing, and reporting capabilities.