Statewide Assessment and Strategies
Summaries of specific research, survey, and monitoring needs identified for each ecological framework and key habitat are provided in Appendices O and P (terrestrial and aquatic, respectively). Research, survey, and monitoring initiatives found to be needed across ecological framework and key habitat boundaries and that would assist in filling information gaps and informing conservation efforts on a statewide scale are aggregated below.
Research, Survey and Monitoring Needs
- Conduct research to enhance knowledge of the natural history, population biology, and community ecology of SGCN within key habitats, including SGCN distribution, abundance, habitat use, and population trend information.
- Research is needed to quantify the extent to which land use activities (e.g., grazing, human development, road-building, and energy exploration and development, etc...) fragment and alter habitats in relation to size, edge effect, composition and structure, and use by SGCN.
- Investigate hydrologic relationships and their effects on SGCN to provide a better understanding of the physicochemical and hydrologic processes that will allow for sustainable watershed conservation and management practices.
- Determine conditions that limit populations of SGCN and their resiliency in adapting to human disturbances.
- Conduct research to anticipate how climate change or drought will affect vegetation patterns and community and ecosystem-level dynamics.
- Determine the extent to which invasive and non-native species may alter community structure and preclude populations of SGCN and identify methods to minimize impacts from non-native species.
- Investigate invasive species early detection protocols and identify potential vectors and pathways.
- Assess and continually monitor habitat condition and water quality.
- Investigate methods to reduce the spread of pathogens through aquatic and terrestrial environments.
- Investigate hydrologic relationships in key habitats.
- Identify or develop protocols and monitoring standards for consistently describing landscape health and condition.
- Investigate methodology that might be employed for early detection of transitions in habitat type and determining indicators of biological integrity.
- Develop collaborative survey and monitoring protocols for invertebrate SGCN that are not currently being monitored.
- Identify SGCN travel corridors and assess habitat connectivity.
- Investigate the role of natural fire and the effectiveness of prescribed fire in reducing the potential for catastrophic stand-replacing fires and maintaining habitats for SGCN.
- Determine and monitor the location and condition of ephemeral aquatic habitats, marshes, springs, seeps, cienegas, and perennial ponds and develop spatial depictions of habitats predicted as suitable for molluscs, crustaceans, and other arthropods in New Mexico.
- To our knowledge, no systematic, standardized monitoring of introduced, non-native plant and animal species is occurring in New Mexico. Introduced non-native species are a primary cause of the decline of native biological diversity globally, and should be addressed at a state, regional and national level, in part by instituting monitoring programs at these different scales. Monitoring and efforts to identify new invasions (both deliberate and accidental) are technically feasible, but lack sufficient funding and coordination (Simberloff et al. 2005). This information should be incorporated into a dynamic statewide Geographical Information System (GIS) database to allow tracking of these trends.
- A more efficient monitoring program needs to be developed to track the effectiveness of conservation actions such as riparian and terrestrial habitat restoration programs at a statewide level. This information should be incorporated into a dynamic statewide GIS database to allow the tracking and assessment of project performance at a landscape level.
- Other than the efforts of the USGS Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP) to map vegetation and wildlife species distribution of the southwestern United States, to our knowledge, no formal, systematic, standardized monitoring of key habitats at a landscape level within ecoregions is occurring in New Mexico. Development of the capacity to detect habitat changes and compare them directly with SGCN monitoring results is essential to evaluating the effectiveness of our conservation actions.
- There is a need to continue monitoring the incidence of whirling disease and chronic wasting disease on a statewide basis.