At the inception of the SDJV, the lack of understanding about population delineation was seen as one of the highest priority topics for future work; this priority was confirmed during a 2010 review of program direction. Identifying links among breeding, molting, staging, and wintering areas will help improve the design of monitoring surveys and interpretation of trends, and more effectively direct management actions.
In brief, the priorities of the SDJV over the next three-year period are to: 1) complete the satellite telemetry study of the three species of scoters as well as Long-tailed Ducks in the Atlantic and Great Lakes region; 2) continue to develop survey techniques for effective monitoring, and 3) develop a focused plan for the general research program that will facilitate decision-making by conservation managers.
Finally, the 2010 strategic planning exercise confirmed as an important theme the potential effects of climate change on sea ducks and the habitats they use. As described previously, climate change has the potential to alter the seasonal distribution of sea ducks, their foods, habitats and breeding chronology, but because relatively little is known about sea duck distributions, habitat use, and ecology, it is difficult to predict the effects of climate-induced alterations to the environment. The ability to detect changes in sea duck distribution will depend on monitoring programs implemented at the appropriate scale; understanding effects on habitat relies on identification and characterization of important areas for sea ducks; and estimation of effects on survival and production depends on research carefully linked to measures of environmental variables.