HRI Seminar Series - Dr. Dale Gawlik

February 16, 2024
3:30 pm
February 16, 2024
4:30 pm
Harte Research Institute
Conference Room 127
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

"CINDI: A Co-Production Project to Guide Waterbird Colony Island Rehabilitation on the Texas Coast"


Coastal managers are rehabilitating waterbird colony islands on the Gulf of Mexico coastal because this important habitat is eroding from storms and sea level rise. However, with almost 300 colony islands on just the Texas coast, agencies will not have the funds to rehabilitate them all. Nor do all islands have the same potential to increase waterbird populations. Therefore, a data-driven prioritization tool that incorporates bio-geo-physical constraints on nesting and economic considerations is needed by managers to prioritize colony islands for rehabilitation. In 2022, we initiated the Colony Island Network Design and Implementation project (CINDI), which uses a co-production process to develop a prioritization tool for rehabilitating islands to help conserve colonial waterbird populations on the Texas coast. Interviews with managers identified that the major sources of uncertainty were related to funding and operations, rather than around ecological responses. Survey respondents identified availability of nesting substrate, amount of human disturbance, presence of predators, and amount of foraging habitat as the greatest constraints on colony size. The final prioritization tool will incorporate all interim data products using an optimization algorithm that minimizes costs of designing a specific network of islands, while maximizing conservation metrics.

Dr. Gawlik is the Endowed Chair for Conservation and Biodiversity at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a Professor in the Department of Life Sciences. Prior to coming to the Harte Research Institute, he spent over 25 years in South Florida conducting research focused on waterbird ecology and conservation, wetland and intertidal ecosystems, restoration ecology, and the use of birds in aquatic ecosystem management. He has published over 85 papers, many focused on how water level fluctuations in coastal and freshwater ecosystems control wading bird populations. He and his students have developed heron, stork, and ibis habitat models that link bird populations to hydrologic management and restoration of the Everglades of Florida. Dr. Gawlik is a Fellow in the American Ornithological Society and he serves on the IUCN Heron Specialists Group and IUCN Stork, Ibis, and Spoonbill Specialist Group. He is also a member of the binational Whooping Crane Recover Plan Implementation Team, the Wood Stork Working Group, and the International Reddish Egret Working Group. Dr. Gawlik has been held elected leadership positions in professional scientific societies, including the Association of Field Ornithologists, Waterbird Society, Wilson Ornithological Society, and the Florida Chapter of the Wildlife Society.