Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) provides managers a transparent and defensible conservation decision-making framework linked across multiple scales. This conservation approach integrates monitoring, modeling and decision support to optimize local wetland management while supporting continental waterbird populations. Local decision support models guide and inform coordinated management of habitat at multiple units across a landscape to maximize benefits for waterbirds while considering costs and other constraints.
Data collected at locally managed sites help track waterbird use, habitat conditions and management actions simultaneously. However, to derive the full benefits from these tools, full participation in the IWMM protocol is required. That is, not collecting the full suite of data prevents access to those benefits and ultimately hinders a station’s ability to track the effectiveness of management actions and to make truly transparent, defensible management decisions. For example, a station that only collects bird survey data will not be able to apply decision tools because the missing habitat data is essential input.
Decision support for local scale wetland management planning depends on the full suite of data to identify the best management alternatives, or “portfolios” (i.e., different collections of management actions that could be employed across management units). With the IWMM online database, wetland managers can now generate the necessary reports to evaluate nonbreeding waterbird and habitat response to their management actions, update model parameter estimates and test alternative models. To widely apply this level of decision support, participants must fulfill all required elements of the protocol and participate in monitoring fully. Collecting your local bird survey and habitat condition data is the key to better decision making and ultimately to better habitat management that maximizes benefits to our migratory waterbirds.