Employing the Conservation Design Approach on Sea-Level Rise Impacts on Coastal Avian Habitats along the Central Texas Coast
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The Gulf Coast Prairie LCC (GCPLCC) encompasses one of the most diverse ecoregions in the United States and into Mexico, encompassing 121 million acres with 500 species of birds in four ecoregions (Figure 1) (Bartush 2013). Declines in habitat quantity and quality as well as fragmentation of once-contiguous native habitats threaten to impact biological diversity and ecosystem health. In a recent assessment of the Gulf Coast Prairie ecoregion, 6% is managed by federal and state agencies and 8.3% by county, nongovernmental and other entities. The remainder of the landscape is owned and managed privately, a practice that has been honored for multiple generations (TNC 2002). As urban and industrial development continues to convert native habitats to development areas, the potential impacts from climate change are converting emergent and submergent habitat types to open water. The low-lying areas along the coast provide a narrow fringe of productive coastal environments that fulfill the ecological requirements for a broad diversity of coastal species. Broad-scale habitat loss and degradation has resulted in the decline of many species’ populations. This issue is of particular concern when the key component of a species’ life cycle is dependent on these coastal environments.