Science Priorities:

Science Priorities 2015-2020
Click here to download recently approved Science Priorities

Strengthening the LMVJV Biological Foundation
Assumption-based research is a key element underpinning and driving the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture’s strategic biological planning.  Essentially, the key assumptions that we make in our planning process represent testable research hypotheses.  For example, when developing a strategic plan for desired forest conditions for wildlife, managers assumed that a number of quantifiable forest stand characteristics (e.g., canopy cover) benefit priority songbird species.  We based our recommendations on relationships described through a literature review, but the specific assumptions were relatively untested.  Accordingly, our LMVJV partners tested the effect of reforestation on songbird response to prescribed silviculutral treatments, hypothesizing that successional change in vegetation may affect avian response to timber harvest (see Research examples).  Thus, when our underlying assumptions are rigorously tested as hypotheses through scientific research, we can use the results to strengthen our Joint Venture’s biological foundation (e.g., bolster confidence in or make adjustments to assumptions) and to guide management practices. 

The Benefits of Assumption-driven Research to the LMVJV Mission
Research provides many benefits to improving our understanding of the most effective bird conservation.  Research is necessary to inform gaps in our knowledge about bird-habitat relationships, such as relative patch size requirements of forest-breeding birds.  We can use research to discover what factors may be limiting bird populations, such as over-winter survival.  Furthermore, research can assess the effectiveness of our management actions. Ultimately, assumption-based research will inform and refine future iterations of our overall conservation strategy to achieve “a landscape supporting healthy native bird populations and other wildlife across the LMVJV.”  

Targeting Our Most Critical Research Needs
The highest priorities for research in the LMVJV are studies that target our most critical assumptions, result in a significant impact to resource management, and target key statistical uncertainty.  Research priorities naturally flow from our biological planning and models used in conservation design.  Examples of applicable research include:

1. Analyses of assumptions in species-habitat models
2. Analyses of assumptions regarding conservation treatment effects on vital rates or abundance
3. Sensitivity analyses of how key parameters influence model results
4. Statistical analyses, and associated refinement, of key uncertainties in spatial data used for planning or monitoring

Collaboration and Coordination through Research Partnerships
The LMVJV welcomes and encourages collaboration on research projects within the MAV and WGCPO (see LMVJV Geography).  Research is ongoing at many institutions on subjects that can inform LMVJV biological planning, conservation design, and delivery.  Work by faculty, students, and post-docs at the University of Missouri, University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Louisiana State University, the U.S. Forest Service’s Hardwoods Lab, and U.S. Geological Survey are but a handful of current examples.  For any questions about research needs, please contact:  Dr. Anne Mini, Science Coordinator, LMVJV, (601) 206-5459,