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The LCC at work in the field, and field offices

North Atlantic LCC Coordinator Andrew Milliken shares how LCC tools supported conservation practitioners in the field this summer.

In many workplaces, the arrival of summer signals an unofficial slow down. There are still deadlines to honor and meetings to attend, but the pace eases, and offices tend to be noticeably quiet on Friday afternoons. 

But in the world of conservation, summer is crunch time. Birds are nesting, vegetation is growing, and the mild weather and extra daylight make it possible to clock long hours working in places that are not quite as hospitable in winter: salt marshes, barrier beaches, headwater streams, to name a few.

The field season is labor intensive, logistically complicated, and critically important to gather information about fish, wildlife, and ecosystems that can advance our understanding of how to protect them in the face of increasing threats from land-use pressures and climate change.

It is the practical needs of conservation professionals in the field, from shorebird biologists to restoration ecologists, that direct the science supported by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. This summer, the results have been visible at sites across the region, where partners have been putting these resources to use on the ground: 

  • Shorebird biologists from North Carolina to Maine used the U.S. Geological Survey’s iPlover application to collect data on the federally listed bird. The information is being used to develop predictive models of plover habitat use that feed into models that will predict changes to plover habitat from sea-level rise and storms.
  • Field technicians for the Saltmarsh Habitat & Avian Research Program visited 1,500 sampling locations along the entire mid-Atlantic coastline to estimate bird abundance and plant community composition in an effort to assess and address risks to salt marsh species and evaluate the effectiveness of marsh restoration.
  • Participants in the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative received training and conducted assessments of road-stream crossings throughout the Northeast to improve fish and wildlife passage and increase flood resilience for human safety.
  • LCC staff and partners collected data on suspended sediment concentrations, turbidity, and vegetation biomass at the Edwin B. Forsythe and John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuges for a Marsh Equilibrium Model to understand how a tidal marsh communities will respond to sea-level rise.


All of these efforts are supported in part by the North Atlantic LCC in response to needs identified by partners across the region for information to help address growing threats to natural resources. While researchers have been out in the field this summer, LCC staff have been on the road meeting with these partners. In visits with state wildlife agencies in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia, and the Fish and Wildlife Service Field Offices in New Jersey and the Chesapeake Bay region, we have been spreading the word about all of the products that are available now or in development to help their staffs get the job done and learning what is needed to make them even more useful. 

Collecting the data is just the first step. When the season is over, field technicians will put away their equipment, but the information they gather will be put to work to refine models, direct future efforts, and help diverse resource managers make more informed conservation decisions in the context of change, whether they are working in the field or at a desk.

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