Colony Island Network Design and Implementation (CINDI) to Recover Waterbirds in the Gulf of Mexico: Pilot Study

Principal Investigator

Colonial-nesting waterbirds (wading birds, gulls, terns, and pelicans) concentrate annually to breed on small coastal islands that comprise a tiny fraction of their habitat but are critically important to the birds’ full life cycle. In the last decade large investments of money (>$24 million) have been committed towards colony island projects along the Gulf coast, as recognition grows that existing islands are facing threats that can leave entire areas without nesting habitat.

The degradation of critical nesting islands for colonial waterbirds has prompted a move to rehabilitate eroding islands. These expensive projects are proceeding case-by-case with no tools to focus funding on islands and sites that have the greatest potential to benefit bird populations. This project will produce such a tool; a geographic information system (GIS)-based prioritization model that accounts for bio-geo-physical constraints, as well as economic feasibility and social factors, to prioritize a network of islands for the Texas coast for which island creation or rehabilitation would provide the maximum conservation benefit for colonial waterbirds.

CINDI project personnel: David Essian, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate; Rostam Mirzadi, M.S. Student