Waterfowl are ecologically, culturally, and economically important and their annual and long-term distributions in North America can substantially impact ecological relationships and have economic impacts. In Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana alone, recent annual sales of Federal Duck Stamps equal $2.4 million. An intensive study in Mississippi estimated the annual total economic impact of waterfowl hunting in that state was $86.8 million. North American waterfowl number in the millions, use a diversity of aquatic and terrestrial foraging niches, and can feed at rates capable of depleting local food resources. In recent years, waterfowl appear to be wintering at more northern latitudes. Sustained northern shifts in autumn-winter distributions of abundant waterfowl could increase foraging pressure in the Great Lakes region while reducing such effects at southerly locations and cause notable changes in ecological relationships throughout eastern North America.
Using weather data, this project built a Geodatabase and platform allowing users to query data and download maps depicting the estimated distribution of waterfowl on a species-specific basis, from September – February, 1979 – present. The platform use vector data to allow collaborators to add more attributes within polygons and enable estimation of interactions of other waterfowl population, waterfowl habitat, and hunter characteristics data within polygons. Thus, the database will serve as a platform to include additional metrics that are known (e.g., habitat suitability) and thought (e.g., disturbance) to influence waterfowl migration, thereby providing the foundation for an iterative process for refinement of migration models and understanding of how climate change may influence waterfowl populations, waterfowl habitat, and hunter characteristics such as opportunity, satisfaction, retention, and recruitment.
Users of the modeling tool will be able to query maps and data by species, date or start date and end date, flyway, and state (or province) using drop-down menus. The query will be exportable as an Excel output by date that will include the number of cells that have values greater than the WSI threshold for the species selected from a drop-down menu. Users also will be able to visualize the changes in the latitude of the WSI threshold line through time using a loop tool.