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Grand Teton National Park Report

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In summer 1997 our NPS-funded project # CA-1460-5-0010, covering a 3-y period from summer 1995 through summer 1997, was completed. The immediate goals of the project were to instigate a system for monitoring the densities of breeding bird species, by establishment of flxed sites as a basis for a long term monitoring plan and of census protocols that can detect changes of breeding species and their densities over successive years. The monitoring scheme is conducted largely within Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), but covers habitats and an avifauna representative of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and the central-northern Rocky Mountains in general. The project emphasizes the need for long­term and on-going studies on breeding bird species and densities and their importance as a tool for evaluating the impact of both local and distant influences on breeding bird populations. For residents, species that remain all year in or near the breeding habitat, local effects include those operating on-site during the non-breeding season as well as during the breeding season. For migrant species, those that breed on-site but leave to spend the non-breeding season in other locations, often distant and usually of quite different habitat composition, there are both on-site influences on breeding population densities, such as inter-year changes in vegetation structure and productivity, and off-site or distant influences, including factors that affect over-wintering success in the non­breeding habitat and others that influence a successful transit between wintering and breeding grounds. The assessment of long-term trends in bird densities may be used as a form of bioassay of the state of the local environments. Information from such studies can provide region-wide indicators that, given a sufficiently comprehensive data base, can segregate local from distant influences on populations. Such indicators can be incorporated into management strategies to aid in determining which local strategies may be necessary (and feasible) to help maintain the biota.