Tag Archives: michigan natural features inventory

MNFI helps to inform global policymakers regarding biodiversity sustainability

For over two years, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, formed by the United Nations in 2012, conducted four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystems services. Brian Klatt, director of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, a program of Michigan State University Extension, was a coordinating lead author for the Americas assessment, leading a team of 15 scientists, from eight countries, to synthesize information on trends in biodiversity, the factors affecting biodiversity, the likely implications of those trends and the actions humans can take to lessen the factors negatively affecting biodiversity.

The Americas assessment found that while the Americas possess a phenomenal amount of biodiversity, human activities have decreased biodiversity (as measured by mean species abundance) by 30 percent since European settlement, with an anticipated loss of an additional 10 percent by 2050 unless steps are taken; the most promising pathways are to lessen human consumption and address climate change.

The four regional assessments were approved in March 2018, and the summaries for policy makers for all four regions are now available at https://www.ipbes.net/event/ipbes-6-plenary.

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Filed under Accomplishments, Greening Michigan, natural resources

MNFI will receive NatureServe Science and Technology Advancement Award

Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) will receive the Science and Technology Advancement Award for 2014 from NatureServe next week at the NatureServe annual meeting in New Orleans.

MNFI is receiving the award for work related to wind energy. The work influenced state and agency policy, and resulted in significant new findings concerning bird and bat activities related to wind energy development.

Dr. Brian Klatt, director of MNFI said, “This is recognition of a truly organization-wide effort … nearly every single scientist here at MNFI has been a PI (principal investigator) on one of the related projects.”

Based in Arlington, Virginia, NatureServe is a nonprofit organization that provides wildlife-conservation-related data, tools and services to private and government clients, partner organizations and the public. Read my previous Spotlight article about the connection between MNFI and NatureServe

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NatureServe wins prestigious award

This year, NatureServe is one of seven recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI). The award recognizes exceptional nonprofits, helping ensure their long-term sustainability. NatureServe will receive $1 million to amplify its voice in global change.

Based in Arlington, Virginia, NatureServe is a nonprofit organization that provides wildlife-conservation-related data, tools and services to private and government clients, partner organizations and the public.

NatureServe is an umbrella organization that helps coordinate the activities of a network of natural heritage programs throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. In the U.S., each state has a natural heritage program whose mission is to maintain a database on the location and condition of threatened, endangered and other rare species, conduct research in conservation and make that information available to decision makers. Science-based information for decision makers sounds a lot like the overall mission of Michigan State University Extension, doesn’t it? In fact, the natural heritage program for Michigan is MSU Extension’s own Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI).

MNFI and NatureServe share a long history of cooperation and connections. A number of senior NatureServe staff were formerly with MNFI, including NatureServe’s current president and CEO Mary Klein. MNFI’s current director Brian Klatt is a member of NatureServe’s U.S. Section Council.

More important than the personal connections is the shared mission. As the MacArthur Foundation stated in announcing the award, “Conservation and protection of the Earth’s land, natural resources, and biodiversity is a messy, complex business.” The NatureServe network “helps civil society, governments, and private companies establish benchmarks and make effective decisions about environmental stewardship. By responding to more than six million data queries each year, the NatureServe network informs land use and natural resource management decisions that guide conservation to the most important places and diminish harmful impacts on biodiversity.”

Both the award to our partner and our role in the network via MNFI are yet more reasons to be proud of MSU Extension’s activities.

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MNFI scientist quoted in Wall Street Journal

In a previous Spotlight article, I featured Dr. Joelle Gehring’s selection by the Partners in Flight Awards Committee for a national award for her contributions toward bird conservation, specifically her work on bird collisions with communications towers. Joelle is a senior conservation scientist in Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI).

Joelle was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article on turning off steady warning lights to avoid bird-tower collisions. Read the article here.

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4-H GLNR campers contribute to science through coastal inventory of threatened plant

At 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, teens learn about Michigan’s natural resources through amazing hands-on experiences. This year, that included inventorying and mapping federally and state-threatened Pitcher’s thistle plant in three coastal Lake Huron areas within Presque Isle County. The campers inventoried almost 1,700 plants previously known to be in the region but never surveyed. The work was not only a learning experience for the campers but also a scientific contribution. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Natural Features Inventory (a program of MSUE) are now utilizing campers’ GPS points of these plant populations to monitor this particular plant species near northern Lake Huron. Find the full story and photos at http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/today/article/2011_4_h_great_lakes_and_natural_resources_campers_make_important_discovery.

4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, a Michigan State University pre-college program, was one of ten programs selected nationwide to be part of an in-depth case study of high-quality 4-H science programs. The camp also received the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award in 2009 and was recognized as a National 4-H Program of Distinction in 2008. Find out more about the camp at http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/glnrc.

Brandon Schroeder, MSU Sea Grant Extension educator; Jordan Burroughs, outreach specialist in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; and Judy Ratkos, senior program leader in MSU Extension’s Children and Youth Institute; provide leadership for the camp.

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Director of MNFI to serve on NatureServe council

Dr. Brian Klatt, director of Michigan State University Extension‘s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), was appointed to the U.S. Section Council of NatureServe.

 Sound natural resource management begins with knowing the extent, status and diversity of our natural resources. NatureServe, a non-profit conservation organization, represents an international network of biological inventories known as natural heritage programs. A natural heritage program exists in each of the 50 states, many of the Canadian provinces and a number of Latin American countries.

 The MNFI serves as the natural heritage program for Michigan. As such, MNFI maintains the most comprehensive database on threatened, endangered, and other rare species and high quality habitats in the state and conducts research into a variety of conservation issues. In the best Extension tradition, MNFI uses this information to inform decision makers as to sound conservation practices at individual landowner, local government, non-governmental organization, state agency and federal levels.

 NatureServe aggregates the information maintained by these programs into an international database. As a member of the U.S. Section Council, Dr. Klatt will provide input into the direction and annual goals of NatureServe and help coordinate activities across the network in the U.S. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Klatt’s leadership on behalf of Michigan and MNFI’s connection to MSUE.

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MNFI scientist honored with national award

The Partners in Flight Awards Committee selected Dr. Joelle Gehring, senior conservation scientist for Michigan State University Extension‘s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), to receive a national award for her contributions toward bird conservation, specifically her work on bird collisions with communications towers.

Partners in Flight (PIF) came about in 1990 in response to growing concerns about declines in the population of many land bird species. PIF is a cooperative effort involving partnerships among federal, state and local government agencies, philanthropic foundations, professional organizations, conservation groups, industry, the academic community and private individuals.

Dr. Gehring’s research on lighted communication towers has paved the way for reducing collision mortality of birds, perhaps worldwide. More than 100,000 lighted communication towers are located in the U.S. It’s conservatively estimated that these towers cause the death of between four million and 50 million birds a year in our country alone. Dr. Gehring conducted the first fully replicated research on the effects of various types of communication towers with various types of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lighting systems on the collision rates of birds. She discovered that by extinguishing the red, steady-burning L-810 lights but leaving on the strobe or incandescent blinking lights, collision mortality can be reduced 50 to 71 percent. In other words, her work may save the lives of millions of birds a year.

According to Dr. Brian Klatt, MNFI director, the FAA is currently reviewing its regulations to incorporate Joelle’s findings into the lighting requirements for towers across the U.S.

Presentation of the award takes place at the 76th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Kansas City, Mo., during the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Reception on March 17, 2011.

This story strikes close to home for me, since my own area of research and teaching has been in the area of fish (and wildlife) conservation. What I especially appreciate about Joelle’s work is that it runs contrary to a common theme I experienced earlier in my career: a common reaction of conservationists was to recognize that something causes a problem for wildlife (or fish) and the only solution we could come up with was to ban whatever caused the problem. That may be a prudent reaction in the short term, but often “stop the” whatever would be promoted as a long-term solution. Banning communication towers, airport lighting and wind turbines isn’t a likely short- or long-term solution to bird strikes. Joelle’s work reflects an attitude that “if we study this carefully and think about this logically, understanding the behavior of birds should give us some opportunities to find solutions that have a more lasting impact.” Her diligence and creative research really are monumental in their impacts on bird conservation. We’re fortunate to have colleagues like Joelle to help inspire all of us to think creatively and find solutions built on scientific understanding of a situation. I’m really pleased the Partners in Flight have seen fit to recognize her innovation and determination to solve challenges.

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