Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Science

Goals

The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture’s (RWBJV) mission includes science–based conservation efforts for all priority bird habitats throughout Nebraska’s mixed–grass prairie region. The Management Board of the RWBJV is committed to implementing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Strategic Habitat Conservation model. This science–based model requires a commitment of resources and time to develop a strong biological foundation for delivering conservation planning and designing research and monitoring efforts. To fulfill this commitment, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln hired Dana Varner as the RWBJV Science Coordinator in October 2014. This position is the product of a partnership between the RWBJV, the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln School of Natural Resources.

Current Status

As science coordinator, Dana works with RWBJV science staff to develop models and decision support tools that help identify areas where conservation is most likely to benefit migratory birds and wildlife. In addition, Dana helps monitor and evaluate the success of ongoing and past habitat conservation projects, collaborating with researchers from various federal and state conservation organizations. Dana recently worked with a group of partners to complete a research project looking at wetland functionality by tracking changes in magnitude of playa inundation, use by migrating whooping cranes, and an assessment of sediment quality. This project used inundation and precipitation data to look at the effects of irrigation pitfills on the potential availability of habitat for migrating whooping cranes. Dana serves on the Executive Committee of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Science Support Team, contributing to evaluation and planning efforts in diverse geographies. Dana is involved with several other projects currently in progress including monitoring of spring-migrating waterfowl use of playas in the Rainwater Basin region and an inventory of eastern red cedar in the Sandhills.

Ducks Unlimited technician Danielle Ramsden surveys waterfowl on a Rainwater Basin playa during a waterfowl monitoring project. Photo:  Alyssa Eby
Ducks Unlimited technician Danielle Ramsden surveys waterfowl on a Rainwater Basin playa during a waterfowl monitoring project. Photo: Alyssa Eby
Principal Investigator(s)
-Kevin L. Pope
-Andy Bishop

Project Coordinator(s)
Dana Varner

Project Duration
October 2014 - December 2019

Funding
-Rainwater Basin Joint Venture

Project Location
Statewide Nebraska
Cooperators