ABSTRACT

Nomadic birds move around the landscape in complex, irregular patterns, making it difficult for conservation managers and planners to decide where and how to act to mitigate threatening processes. Because of this uncertainty, nomadic species are poorly represented in protected areas in Australia. We outline approaches to discover nomadic species distributions, their dynamics and their consequent vulnerability to extinction. Using citizen science initiatives like eBird Australia and the BirdLife Australia Atlas, combined with new ways of applying species distribution modelling that take into account temporal patterns of movement driven by weather and productivity, we demonstrate how to map and predict the key sites for conservation action for nomadic species. We explore recent advancements in decision–support tools to incorporate species movements into systematic conservation planning, and highlight challenges in traditional approaches for protected area designation for conserving nomads. Due to the spatio–temporal dynamism of nomadic species distributions, the projected costs of managing nomads across Australia using traditional, static, protected areas are prohibitive. Landholders, including graziers and indigenous landholders, will play a key role in safeguarding these species on pastoral lands into the future, and future conservation efforts should be focussed on these stakeholders, through a combination of community engagement, market–based incentives (such as biodiversity farming or payments for artificial water source and ephemeral wetland management), cross–boundary and cross– agency collaboration policies, and new legislative instruments. Accounting for the movements of nomadic species and incorporating new approaches to integrated land management will help design conservation solutions that are effective, cost–efficient, and robust to uncertainty in this rapidly changing world.

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