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 Effects of Marcellus Shale Gas Development on Forest Birds

The Appalachian shale play, which includes the Marcellus shale formation, is an important source of natural gas but also underlies much of the remaining large areas of extensive contiguous forest within the eastern United States. In the last decade, unconventional drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus-Utica shale has increased exponentially in the central Appalachians, a heavily forested region that contains important breeding habitat for many neotropical migratory songbirds, including several species of conservation concern. This presentation for the AMJV Community will focus on recent research that evaluated potential impacts of new shale gas development on forest habitat and breeding songbirds - with a focus on studies conducted in Pennsylvania and West Virginia on effects to bird communities and a study researching long-term impacts to Louisiana Waterthrush demography. Early results from such studies suggest that shale gas development has the potential to fragment regional forests and alter avian communities, and that efforts to minimize new development in core forests will reduce negative impacts to forest dependent species.
Presentation by Margaret Brittingham, Professor of Wildlife Resources at Penn State University; Laura Farwell, Graduate Research Assistant at West Virginia University; and Mack Frantz, Graduate Research Assistant at West Virginia University

 Tools and Resources for Addressing Energy Development in the Appalachians

The Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture and partners have been working to assess various energy development technologies to determine potential impacts on birds and other wildlife from expanded extraction. One of those partners, the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), has funded several projects and developed tools and resources to used in this effort. This presentation highlighted the results and tools from several of these projects, including:

  • Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachians
  • Ecosystem Benefits and Risk Site and Online Resources 
  • Preview of the LCC’s new online learning platform
Presentation by Jessica Rhodes, GIS Analyst and Data Manager, Appalachian LCC 

 Seeing the Forest for the Trees (and Birds)

Audubon's Priority Forest Analysis for the Atlantic Flyway - In 2014, Audubon completed an Atlantic Flyway forest analysis that merged data on forest intactness and extent of forests with data from the Breeding Bird Survey for a broad suite of forest-dependent bird species. The analysis identified new Important Bird Areas as well as helped Audubon and its partners prioritize high value forest blocks across the eastern US. This presentation discussed the methods used and results, as well as how data could be used to further bird conservation across the region.
Presentation by Curtis Smalling, Audubon North Carolina's Director of Land Bird Conservation.