Displaying items by tag: conservation


Our very own John Cavitt, chair of Linking's Conservation Committee, highlighted American avocets in the intermountain west and their role in linking communities throughout North America.  Read his article here.


December 22, 2015

Two former exchange students from Mexico, sponsered in part by Linking, decided to go find the avocet named Simba.  It has a satellite transmitter and is wintering for the second year in a row in Marismas Nacionales, Mexico. Simba was originally banded at the Bear River Refuge on June 5, 2014 as part of the American Avocet Migration Project.  He was with a flock of avocets in virtually the same wetland complex he was in last year.  Check out the photos below.

 Simba preenSimba sleep


Published in News & Events
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

Rio Tinto - BirdLife International Partnership in Utah

Mine-site WetlandsLinking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds has become an important component of the partnership between Rio Tinto (parent company of Kennecott Utah Copper) and BirdLife International.  Linking's mission of conserving migratory birds through "linking" the communities and associated wetlands that migratory birds utilize during their life cycle is a main focus of the Rio Tinto - BirdLife International Partnership.  The goal of this partnership is to

Contribute to the cultivation of a healthy, constructive, and mutually beneficial relationaship between Rio Tinto and civil society stakeholders concerned about environmental protection and the conservation of biodiversity.

Rinto Tinto has committed itself to increasing biodiversity at its mining sites throughout the globe.  Developing and enhancing mitigation lands and wetlands such as Kennecott's Inland Sea and Shorebird Reserve is just one way that Rio Tinto and BirdLife International seek to have a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity.  Linking is involved in Rio Tinto's goal and you can read more about in this online brochure.

Published in Learn More

Marcella-screen shotMarcela Castellino is an exchange student from Argentina who is studying the local movements of Wilson's Phalaropes at Great Salt Lake, Utah and in her home country at Mar Chaquita Lake.  Under the direction of Dr. John Cavitt at Weber State University, Castellino began her research at Great Salt Lake in the summer of 2013 by tracking where phalaropes move during the day and identifying important feeding and roosting sites on the lake.

Wilson's Phalaropes are small shorebirds that flock to Great Salt Lake in numbers around 500,000 while feasting on abundant invertebrates, particularly brine flies, found around the lake.  The phalaropes double their weight while at Great Salt Lake and fly non-stop to the northern reaches of South America.  Many of the phalaropes will travel farther south and winter at Mar Chaquita Lake where Castellino is continuing her research this winter.  Check out her video showing scenes from Great Salt Lake and Mar Chaquita Lake and explaining her work.

Published in News & Events
Monday, 27 October 2014 00:00

Science Friday Highlights Rosalie Winard

12358-1American Avocet photos by Rosalie Winard make Picture of the Week on Science Friday's website.   Over half of all American Avocets visit Great Salt Lake, Utah every year during migration, and Winard uniquely captures just a few of these elegant birds on infrared film. Two of the photos show an avocet fitted with a satellite transmitter and leg bands to monitor it's movements throughout the year as part of a study led by Dr. John Cavitt at Weber State University.

Published in News & Events
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:00

10th Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum

Linking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds helped sponser the 10th biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum on May 7-9, 2014 by providing travel support for keynote speaker Dr. Robert P. Clay, director of the Executive Office of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and for Dr. Clemens Kuepper, Marie-Curie-Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.  Clay's talk entitled, "Linking Sites and People: The Importance of Great Salt Lake as a Hub for Migratory Bird Conservation," elaborated on the vision of Linking Communities to make ties between communities across the migratory pathways of birds through education, ecotourism, and conservation.  Kuepper's talk entitled, "Between Mangrove Forests and Marijuana Fields: Snowy Plover Conservation in Mexico," focused on his research of snowy plovers in northwestern Mexico, which could be one potential wintering location for snowy plovers that breed near Great Salt Lake.

For more information please read Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network's recap of the keynote address, or watch Dr. Clay's keynote presentation and Dr. Kuepper's presentation along with other presentations and photos from the 2014 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum.


Published in News & Events
Friday, 14 March 2014 00:00

Satellite Transmitters for American Avocets

Funding provided by Kennecott through the Rio Tinto – BirdLife International Programme is providing critical information on the migration ecology of American Avocets. A total of 8 avocets were captured at Great Salt Lake during the breeding season and outfitted with satellite transmitters to track their use of the lake and eventual migration. Weber State University student Jeff Cowlishaw and University of Nayarit student, Javier Paniaqua collaborated on the project under the direction of Dr. John Cavitt. For additional information about the study and to track their movements visit the project website at http://departments.weber.edu/avianecologylab/AMAV/home.html.

Published in News & Events
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 00:00

A Warm Welcome to our New WHSRN Director!

The Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences has named Dr. Robert Clay as the new director of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)'s Executive Office. 

Read the full annoucement >

Published in News & Events

The Linking project has received a $70,000 grant from the Rio Tinto – BirdLife International Partnership Action Fund to support its tri-national efforts.
The funding is part of a larger program that Rio Tinto-BirdLife is starting to advance range-wide bird conservation in the Western Hemisphere through local community action associated with sites of significant importance to migratory and resident birds.
The Utah-based Rio Tinto business, Kennecott Utah Copper is a major partner in this effort. They are committed to assist with habitat protection in the Great Salt Lake — a key migratory bird habitat in the Americas.
Jonathan Stacey, BirdLife Director for the Western Hemisphere Flyways Program, said the project will commit a total of $130,000 in 2009. Part of that money will go toward support for the Linking program, and part will be spent on extending a program modeled on Linking into several South American countries.
“We feel able to proceed with what we believe to be a groundbreaking initiative that has, at its foundation, long established experience of linked community-based migratory bird conservation and education,” said Stacey. “The Linking Communities program will play a major part in extending this initiative throughout the Americas.”

Published in News & Events

An approach for safeguarding shorebird populations

Shorebirds are antsy, at least when I see them during the spring and summer migration periods along the seemingly barren mudflats of Great Salt Lake, Utah.  These birds never stop moving, constantly stitching the ground, probing for food.  And it isn’t just a couple of shorebirds, it is thousands or tens of thousands of shorebirds tightly packed together as if they were whispering to one another about how good the food is.  When one bird gets overly nervous about a sound or a falcon’s silhouette passing nearby, they all get nervous and take to the air, en masse, hoping to survive another day along their lengthy migratory journey.

Great Salt Lake is just one stopover location for shorebirds along their annual route from their wintering grounds in the south to their breeding grounds in the north and back again.  These stopover points are resting locations where shorebirds can replenish their fat reserves and continue, often non-stop, to the next distant stopover location.

The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) recognizes the importance of not just protecting breeding and wintering habitat for shorebirds.  To help maintain shorebird populations it is also critical to protect these isolated, stopover locations to ensure that these birds gain enough weight to get to their next stop and, repeating the process several times, to their wintering or breeding grounds.

To achieve these goals, WHSRN, in cooperation with local nominating partners in North and South America, has designated 87 sites in 13 countries as important to shorebirds.  In 1991, Great Salt Lake became included in the network as a site of ‘hemispheric importance, meaning over 500,000 shorebirds or 30% of a geographic population visit each year during migration or, alternately, come to the lake to breed.  One species alone, the Wilson’s Phalarope, qualifies Great Salt Lake as a hemispheric site during their peak concentrations in July.  However, knowing which areas are of great importance to shorebirds is only part of the effort to protect and maintain their populations.

Over the course of two days in March 2012, a group of 20 individual stakeholders, including myself, participated in a comprehensive assessment of Great Salt Lake to address the status of local factors affecting shorebirds.  The assessment covered past, current, and future activities vital to Great Salt Lake shorebirds and addressed the importance of each factor through a detailed ranking system.   The focus of the assessment concentrated on three main components:  management effectiveness, threats, and conservation actions.

The site assessment helps local area managers and stakeholders identify key areas to focus on in an era of increasingly limited resources to solve problems.  Site assessments done periodically through time and at other WHSRN sites help detail successes, as well as, failures that need additional response.  Ultimately, we hope these efforts will maintain stable shorebird populations along their migratory path.

-by John Neill, Avian biologist with the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program and Treasurer of Linking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds.

Published in Learn More
Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00

Avian Conservation Research Exchange


In 2007, Linking embarked on a higher education initiative with the goal of providing training opportunities and research experience for students interested in shorebird conservation.  This is particularly important for students from Mexico where opportunities and capacities are often limited.  This program began by a partnership between Weber State University (WSU) in Ogden, Utah and the Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit (UAN) in Tepic, Mexico.   For eight weeks each summer, two UAN students travel to Utah to engage with WSU students learning field research techniques and participating in research projects on Great Salt Lake shorebirds.  Students learn and practice avian survey techniques, methods for monitoring shorebird productivity, mist-netting, trapping and banding procedures for studies on migration and survival.  In addition to the field work, students spend time in the laboratory learning avian classification, phylogeny and anatomy. 

Over the last year, this program has expanded along the Pacific Flyway to include students from Argentina and Chile.  We anticipate that this higher educational partnership will continue to grow and provide the training and experience needed by shorebird biologists of the future.




 Karla Robledo

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Yolanda Gonzalez

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Ivan Popoca

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Rocio Medrano

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Jonathon Vega

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Paulina Martinez

 Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Nayarit, Mexico

 Marcela Castellino

 Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina

 Rommy Soto

 Universidad Católica de Santísima, Concepción, Chile

 Luis Mendoza

 Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Mexico

 David Molina

 Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Mexico

Published in Learn More

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