Conservation in the context of Linking Communities includes several specific disciplines of science and conservation action. Important to the Linking initiative is the development of associations among and within countries that share species and populations of migratory birds. Shorebird conservation has been a primary focus, but of interest are other species and suites of species where geographic sites within the international Linking community play an important role in their life history. Initial conservation planning involved determining where data were lacking and where conservation actions would be best employed.

International discussions among Linking partners helped identify where opportunities, resources, and interests were either present or lacking. Linking partners who have engaged in planning and decision-making include the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. federal agencies, the Canadian wildlife Service, and various conservation agencies in Mexico especially in the state of Nayarit. Additionally, several important nonprofit conservation organizations are involved, such as  Nature Canada, Audubon, Pronatura, BirdLife International, North American Bird Conservation Initiative, FRIENDS of the Great Salt Lake, Chaplin Nature Center, the Utah Wetlands Foundation, and others. Important resource partners have included industry and conservation minded individuals, and of major importance has been the BirdLife/Rio Tinto partnership especially, Utah Kennecott Copper. Just as important are the many individual partners within various communities that are proximate to significant habitat linked by migratory birds.

Important conservation initiatives over the last decade have included the gathering of baseline migratory bird population and habitat data and the development of conservation actions based on information gathered. Important research has been developed and carried out pertaining to specific conservation needs and species of importance within the tri-national Linking community. Research has focused on different migratory bird questions, including specific site-based occurrence inventories and species ecology. Collaborative research has involved spatial and temporal distribution of individuals and populations at different international sites along the migratory pathway. Some projects funded by linking and its partners include shorebird banding and satellite telemetry.

Conservation planning and actions have been put in place as part of the Linking effort and other local conservation initiatives. This is especially the case in the large coastal wetlands of Nayarit, Mexico. Linking partners have participated in Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site assessments and other important shorebird planning initiatives.

Linking partners have worked with universities in developing student exchanges, field training, lab and collection techniques, senior projects and graduate research. Weber State University and the University of Nayarit have played important roles in this process through student exchanges. The Great Salt Lake has been the backdrop for student training hosted by Weber State University and Linking Communities. Over several years students from Mexico and Utah have been involved with this training and research. Recently students from Argentina and Chile have participated in the training and field work as part of their higher education experience.

© 2014 Utah Linking Communities.

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