Rodd Kelsey

Rodd Kelsey
The Nature Conservancy

PhD
Shorebird migration and carry over impacts of habitat availability using Motus wildlife tracking network

About

64
Publications
14,955
Reads
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760
Citations
Introduction
I am currently the Associate Director of the Water Program for The Nature Conservancy in California and Director of our Rewilding the Central Valley strategy. I lead an interdisciplinary team of scientists and project directors working with academic and other NGO partners to develop and implement wildlife-friendly agriculture and strategic restoration of unsustainable agricultural lands.
Additional affiliations
March 2013 - present
The Nature Conservancy
Position
  • Lead Scientist, Working Landscapes
Description
  • I lead a multi-disciplinary team of scientists to help guide the Conservancy’s efforts to conserve biodiversity in diverse working landscapes, including intensively cultivated croplands, Sierra forests, montane meadows and rangelands.
March 2013 - July 2017
The Nature Conservancy
Position
  • Researcher

Publications

Publications (64)
Article
Full-text available
Programs that incentivize private landowners to create habitats that offset losses due to conversion and climate change are increasingly being used to bolster sensitive wildlife populations. In the Central Valley of California, shorebird habitat incentive programs pay landowners to create additional habitat during the non‐breeding season by floodin...
Book
As the world population grows, so does the demand for food, putting unprecedented pressure on agricultural lands. At the same time, climate change, soil degradation, and water scarcity mean that productivity of many of these lands is deteriorating. In many desert dryland regions, drinking wells are drying up and the land above them is sinking, soil...
Article
Full-text available
Western North American forest ecosystems are experiencing rapid changes in disturbance regimes because of climate change and land use legacies (Littell et al. 2018). In many of these forests, the accumulation of surface and ladder fuels from a century of fire suppression, coupled with a warming and drying climate, has led to increases in the number...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation biology is particularly susceptible to the knowledge‐implementation gap where academic pursuits do not always meet the needs of practitioners. Providing future practitioners with relevant training and experiences as graduate students can help narrow this gap. An example of one such experience was a partnership between the University of...
Article
Full-text available
Irrigated agriculture has grown rapidly over the last 50 years, helping food production keep pace with population growth, but also leading to significant habitat and biodiversity loss globally. Now, in some regions, land degradation and overtaxed water resources mean historical production levels may need to be reduced. We demonstrate how analytical...
Article
Full-text available
Scientists devote substantial time and resources to research intended to help solve environmental problems. Environmental managers and policymakers must decide how to use the best available research evidence to prioritize actions leading to desired environmental outcomes. Yet decision‐makers can face barriers to using scientific evidence to inform...
Article
Full-text available
Context. Climate and land-use change have led to disturbance regimes in many ecosystems without a historical analog, leading to uncertainty about how species adapted to past conditions will respond to novel post-disturbance landscapes. Objectives. We examined habitat selection by spotted owls in a post-fire landscape. We tested whether selection...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This Policy Brief summarizes the results of a study on the potential for strategic habitat restoration in the San Joaquin Valley of California as an important part of reducing overall water demand to achieve groundwater sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). It also provides policy recommendations based on these res...
Article
Full-text available
Agriculture-dominated landscapes harbor significantly diminished biodiversity. Woody vegetation along field margins can provide farmers with ecosystem services and benefit biodiversity. However, when crops are damaged by the biodiversity harbored in such vegetation, farmers are reluctant to incorporate field margin habitat onto their land and may e...
Preprint
Agriculture-dominated landscapes harbor significantly diminished biodiversity, but are also areas in which significant gains in biodiversity can be achieved. Planting or retaining woody vegetation along field margins can provide farmers with valuable ecosystem services while simultaneously benefitting biodiversity. However, when crops are damaged b...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural management practices have impacts not only on crops and livestock, but also on soil, water, wildlife, and ecosystem services. Agricultural research provides evidence about these impacts, but it is unclear how this evidence should be used to make decisions. Two methods are widely used in decision making: evidence synthesis and decision...
Preprint
Full-text available
Scientists devote substantive time and resources to research to help solve environmental problems. Managers and policy makers must decide which actions will lead to desired environmental outcomes, based on the best-available research. Yet decision-makers frequently do not use much of this evidence. They may be unaware of it, lack access to it, not...
Article
Although health, development, and environment challenges are interconnected, evidence remains fractured across sectors due to methodological and conceptual differences in research and practice. Aligned methods are needed to support Sustainable Development Goal advances and similar agendas. The Bridge Collaborative, an emergent research-practice col...
Article
Full-text available
Cover crops are considered to be beneficial for multiple ecosystem services, and they have been widely promoted through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the EU and Farm Bill Conservation Title Programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), in the USA. However, it can be difficult to decide whether the beneficial effec...
Article
Full-text available
Although health, development, and environment challenges are interconnected, evidence remains fractured across sectors due to methodological and conceptual differences in research and practice. Aligned methods are needed to support Sustainable Development Goal advances and similar agendas. The Bridge Collaborative, an emergent research-practice col...
Article
Full-text available
Although health, development, and environment challenges are interconnected, evidence remains fractured across sectors due to methodological and conceptual differences in research and practice. Aligned methods are needed to support Sustainable Development Goal advances and similar agendas. The Bridge Collaborative, an emergent research-practice col...
Chapter
Full-text available
With much of the Earth’s land under agriculture and a growing human population, pressure to expand and intensify farming will only increase. Two broad approaches have been proposed to reconcile society’s need to balance food production with conservation. Land sharing focuses on improving wildlife conditions within agricultural landscapes, often by...
Article
Full-text available
Wetland loss and degradation have been extensive across the world, especially in California’s Central Valley where over 90% of the natural wetlands have been converted to agricultural and urban uses. In the Central Valley today, a much smaller network of managed wetlands and flooded agricultural fields supports almost five million waterfowl and hal...
Article
Full-text available
Strategic retirement and restoration of agricultural lands is a critical conservation opportunity globally. The objective of this synthesis was to examine whether ecological habitat assessments, endangered species historical occurrence data, and restoration research can be used to develop evidence-based\ strategy for retiring and restoring agricult...
Article
Full-text available
Strategic retirement and restoration of agricultural lands is a critical conservation opportunity globally. The objective of this synthesis was to examine whether ecological habitat assessments, endangered species historical occurrence data, and restoration research can be used to develop evidence‐based strategy for retiring and restoring agricultu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Experimenting with new and unconventional restoration methods and designs is critical to advancing the field of ecological restoration. Conventional methods cannot be considered reliable in a future with climate change-induced shifts in weather conditions, species distributions, and ecosystem processes. It is crucial that researchers and practition...
Technical Report
Full-text available
California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management. SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. As a result, agricultural land retirement is on the rise in the San Joaquin Valley, California’...
Preprint
Full-text available
Experimenting with new and unconventional restoration methods and designs is critical to advancing the field of ecological restoration. Conventional methods cannot be considered reliable in a future with climate change-induced shifts in weather conditions, species distributions, and ecosystem processes. It is crucial that researchers and practition...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We conducted a systematic regional-scale assessment to identify watersheds for forest restoration activities that would offer the greatest risk reduction to biodiversity and human infrastructure. Also, in order to assess how much fuels reduction has already occurred in recent years and how accessible watersheds are for proactive restoration, we com...
Article
Full-text available
We quantified the greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission and economic implications of alternative crop and wetland mosaics on a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta island: Staten Island. Using existing GHG fluxes measurements for the Delta and biogeochemical models, we estimated GHG emissions for a range of scenarios, including the status quo, modified groundwater...
Article
Considerable funding has been allocated to conservation management of non-crop habitat in agricultural landscapes, particularly field margin habitat such as hedgerows. Evaluation of the biodiversity benefits of non-crop habitat has lagged behind implementation, however, especially in the United States where this habitat has the potential to supply...
Article
Full-text available
Change in land use in agriculturally dominated areas is often assumed to provide positive benefits for land-owners and financial agricultural returns at the expense of biodiversity and other ecosystem services. For an agriculturally dominated area in the Central Valley of California we quantify the trade-offs among ecosystem services, biodiversity,...
Conference Paper
One important challenge for sandhill crane conservation is the collection of regular, accurate counts of birds roosting in flooded areas at night. Estimates of roost site numbers are an important way to track population size over time and detect any changes in site selection that may be a function of management or changes in site conditions. Tradit...
Article
Full-text available
Riparian ecosystems provide important ecosystem services and recreational opportunities for people, and habitat for wildlife. In California's Central Valley, government agencies and private organizations are working together to protect and restore riparian ecosystems, and the Central Valley Joint Venture provides leadership in the formulation of go...
Article
Full-text available
Quantitative population objectives are necessary to successfully achieve conservation goals of secure or robust wildlife populations. However, existing methods for setting quantitative population objectives commonly require extensive species-specific population viability data, which are often unavailable, or are based on estimates of historical pop...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we evaluated the water quality and quantity impacts of five restoration and land protection scenarios in the Truckee River watershed, in the context of regulatory goals. We used spatially explicit biophysical models to create scenarios with targeted places where the greatest water quality and supply benefits could be realized. We qua...
Article
This paper describes the development and application of a spreadsheet model to evaluate effects of water management on diversion modified flow regimes, enabling the exploration of novel ways to meet proposed environmental flow standards. Mill Creek, a northern California river with an altered flow regime that impacts aquatic species, was used as a...
Research
Full-text available
Oral presentation to ICCB/ECCB meeting in Montpellier, August 2015
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Transformation of California’s Central Valley into an intensively cultivated landscape has required a water capture and delivery infrastructure that has severely limited the freshwater available for natural communities. Balancing the water needs of ecosystems, wildlife, and people requires strategies that are specific...
Article
Full-text available
Population trends represent a minimum amount of information required to assess the conservation status of a species. However, understanding and detecting trends can be complicated by variation among habitats and regions, and by dispersal connecting habitats through source-sink dynamics. We analyzed trends in breeding populations between habitats an...
Article
Full-text available
Rice agriculture provides habitat for waterbirds in California’s Sacramento Valley, a region that has lost over 90% of natural wetlands. Developed as an agronomic practice, winter-flooding of rice fields also provides habitat for waterbirds but alternatives are needed with predicted declines in water availability. During the winters of 2009–2010 an...
Article
Full-text available
Restoration and conservation may be enhanced by using ecologically-based methods for prioritizing actions. Efforts are currently underway to restore river flows to the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley. Although fish are the primary restoration target for restored flows, complementary efforts are being designed to protect, enhance, a...
Article
Full-text available
Background/Question/Methods Hedgerows provide valuable ecosystem services including air and water quality protection, soil erosion control, promotion of pollinators and other beneficial insects, and biodiversity. Planting hedgerows at field margins is an increasingly common conservation measure in heavily transformed agricultural regions of Calif...
Article
Full-text available
Over the next century, climate change will dramatically alter natural resource management. Specifically, historical refer-ence conditions may no longer serve as benchmarks for restoration, which may foster a "why bother?" attitude toward ecological restoration. We review the potential role for riparian restoration to prepare ecological systems for...
Article
Full-text available
We describe four discrete variants of the frequency-modulated flight calls of Evening Grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) in the United States and southwestern Canada. Each call type is aurally and spectrographically distinct, and individual birds appear to produce only one call type. The observed geographic distributions of these call types are...
Article
How birds use environmental cues to time breeding, migration and molt has been the subject of intensive study for nearly 90 years. Most work has focused on seasonal breeders; opportunistic breeders have been presumed to differ fundamentally from seasonal taxa in ways that facilitate coping with unpredictable environments. Understanding patterns and...
Conference Paper
Terrestrial plant species live within elevational limits. Response to climate change at the lower edge of a species' range can be quite different from response at its upper limits. Lower edge dynamics can sometimes lead to rapid shifts, if establishment conditions have changed. Under those circumstances, stand replacing disturbances can cause the l...
Article
Full-text available
We describe four discrete variants of the frequency-modulated flight calls of Evening Grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) in the United States and southwestern Canada. Each call type is aurally and spectrographically distinct, and individual birds appear to produce only one call type. The observed geographic distributions of these call types are...
Article
Full-text available
Pygmy Palm-Swift Micropanyptilafurcata is endemic to the Maracaibo Basin of Venezuela and Colombia. Described by Sutton in 1928, it is still known only from < 30 museum specimens from seven localities, leading it to be included in the first edition of the bird RedDataBook, but not subsequent editions. During a field survey in January 1995 we regula...
Article
Full-text available
As an island endemic, the Island Scrub-Jay's Aphelocoma insularis population status and conservation are of concern. In addition, because the Island Scrub-Jay is easily observed, it is an ideal candidate for monitoring the effects of management efforts on Santa Cruz Island, California. We used estimates of territory size in several different habita...

Projects

Projects (5)
Project
Identify where and how to incentivize the strategic retirement and restoration to natural habitat of marginal agricultural lands in order to recover biodiversity, ecosystem services, and improve agricultural sustainability.
Project
We study avian ecology and conservation in agricultural landscapes, quantifying the costs and benefits for for both farmers and birds, the effectiveness of conservation activities, and the interactive effects of natural habitat amount, connectivity, and scale.
Project
This is a diverse set of projects focused on improving management of irrigated agricultural lands for migratory shorebirds and other wetland birds