Projects & Clients

Coyote Springs Wetland Monitoring Project
Kirtland Air Force Base, Bernalillo County, NM

Yellow-bellied Marmot on Uncompahgre Peak

Coyote Springs Pond

Coyote Springs Wetland was created in 2004–05 by pumping water from the perennial Coyote Spring.  The site on Kirtland Air Force

Base was once a historic hotel and resort which bottled its natural spring water for drinking. In 2008,

ABS initiated the third of a five-year monitoring project at the wetland consisting of four sub-tasks—vegetation, water quality, amphibian, and avian monitoring.

Vegetation monitoring focuses on establishment and growth of wetland vegetation at the pond as well as vegetation in the adjacent upland. Permanent photo points serve as references for vegetative growth between years. Vegetative cover and species composition are quantified using a Daubenmire box-plot sampling methodolgy.

Water quality monitoring includes assessing physical and chemical properties of the pond and sampling macroinvertebrates to bioassess wetland health. Physical and chemical properties of interest include dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity, pH, temperature, and saturated oxygen.  Macroinvertebrate sampling metrics include taxa richness, composition, functional feeding groups, and tolerance/intolerance.

Amphibian monitoring includes a mix of nocturnal surveys for frogs and toads and trapping methods to assess species presence/absence. Drift fences with pit fall traps have been established around the pond to capture of amphibians as well as reptile and small mammal species.

Avian monitoring has primarily focused on censuses to determine species richness and relative abundance, but also nest searching and monitoring to document breeding activity. Censuses occur during spring and fall migration, the breeding season and winter.

Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Prairie Falcon Nest Monitoring
Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office

Yellow-bellied Marmot on Uncompahgre Peak

Juvenile Red-spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus)

Juvenile Red-spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus)

In 2008, ABS was contracted by the Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office (BLM/FFO) to continue historic nest monitoring/reproductive success study of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) and prairie falcon (F. mexicanus) in the BLM Farmington Resource Area. Golden eagle, peregrine falcon and prairie falcon are all listed as Special Management Species by the BLM/FFO. The project encompassed raptor habitat in San Juan, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval counties, New Mexico, and specific work included multiple visits to historic territories during the breeding season to monitor territory occupancy and productivity. When historic raptor nests were unoccupied, subsequent visits focused on locating alternate nests. These data, in combination with data from prior years, are important for BLM biologists to evaluate regional raptor population trends and to develop management guidelines and protection strategies where the Farmington Resource Area is used predominantly for natural gas exploration.

Burrowing Owl and Gunnison's Prairie Dog Inventory
Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office

Yellow-bellied Marmot on Uncompahgre Peak

Burrowing Owl Feather & Pellets at Burrow Entrance

In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office (BLM/FFO) contracted ABS, in conjunction with the San Juan Institute of Natural and Cultural Resources at Fort Lewis College (FLC), to conduct surveys for burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) at historic Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) towns throughout BLM/FFO lands in northwest New Mexico. Locaions of historic prairie dog towns were previously mapped by the BLM/FFO. Pedestrian surveys to confirm prairie dog occupancy were conducted by walking parallel transects throughout each historic town. Occupancy was confirmed based on the presence of prairie dogs or fresh sign (tracks, scat) at burrows. Burrowing owl occupancy was confirmed by the presence of adult or young owls. Where owls were observed, burrow entrances were examined for signs of owl occupation, including feathers, bones, pellets and fresh whitewash. 

This project is important for the BLM/FFO to develop baseline information on their burrowing owl population and to develop management guidelines and protection strategies where the Farmington Resource Area is used predominantly for natural gas exploration.

Gray Vireo Population Monitoring
Kirtland Air Force Base, Bernalillo County, NM

Yellow-bellied Marmot on Uncompahgre Peak

Color-banded Gray Vireo

In 2008, ABS was contracted by Kirtland Air Force Base(KAFB) to monitor a subset of the gray vireo (Vireo vicinior) population occurring on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) lands on the base. Gray vireo populations are scattered throughout New Mexico, and the species is currently listed as a state-threatened species by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

The scope of work at KAFB includes conducting playback surveys to identify active gray vireo territories, nest searching and monitoring, vegetative sampling at nest sites, banding vireo chicks and target mist-netting and color banding. Survey data are used to determine territory occupancy, whereas nest data will be used to estimate nesting success, rate of nest predation and rate of nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater). ABS will analyze vegetative data at nest sites to build habitat models describing nest site selection and vegetative characteristics that may be important in nesting success. Banding data will provide information on site fidelity and survival of gray vireos on KAFB.