Bill Johnson

phone: 806-651-4014
email: bill_johnson at

“When writing about how to best manage several tracts of newly acquired federal lands, Aldo Leopold lamented (in 1938) that research was the highest priority need in order to lay “a scientific foundation” [from For the Health of the Land, by Callicott & Freyfogle]. This is no less true today. A strong understanding of the effectiveness of our management actions is paramount to sound conservation.”

Maxwell NWR, Rio Mora NWR, Las Vegas NWR , Bitter Lake NWR, Grulla NWR, Muleshoe NWR, Buffalo Lake NWR, Optima NWR, Washita NWR, Salt Plains NWR

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives:
Great Plains LCC, Desert LCC and Southern Rockies LCC

Current Projects:
Waterfowl Management and Monitoring:  This effort consists of 3 concurrent processes: a landscape analysis to determine waterfowl habitat availability and carrying capacity; monitoring response of waterfowl habitat to management; and, determining the response of waterfowl populations to changes in habitat availability within and surrounding the refuge.  This information can be used to guide management decisions and to determine if management actions on refuges align with seasonal waterfowl habitat needs and availability at the landscape scale. Following the approach currently under development at Sequoyah NWR, led by Paige Schmidt and Dustin Taylor, we will develop integrated waterfowl management and monitoring efforts at Salt Plains, Washita, and Muleshoe NWRs (with USFWS-Div. Migratory Bird Management, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Grassland Bird Monitoring at Muleshoe NWR:  Monitoring changes in bird population and community parameters is an important element of a comprehensive, long-term monitoring program.  The utility of monitoring grassland birds is strengthened by concurrent monitoring of environmental parameters as well as tracking habitat management actions, such as burning and grazing.  Our objective is to obtain breeding season estimates of grassland bird density/occupancy and grassland bird community parameters at Muleshoe NWR.  We followed the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory protocol, which is used by other conservation agencies (both federal and state) and non-governmental organizations.  The information will feed into a larger dataset that is used to estimate parameters, such as community dynamics (species richness, etc.), species specific density, and occupancy estimates, at the landscape level.  This effort will lead to the accumulation of a large data set that can be used to examine how management actions are impacting bird communities and individual species. (With Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory)

Pecos assiminea monitoring at Bitter Lake NWR: The Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecos) is a tiny (<2 mm long), Federally endangered snail found only at Bitter Lake NWR in New Mexico and a TNC-owned tract in Texas.  This semi-aquatic (often called amphibious) snail is found immediately adjacent to spring seeps, spring runs and sink holes.  All current knowledge of this species, including habitat requirements, is limited to basic descriptive information that was recorded concurrently with non-systematic field searches.  This monitoring effort addresses one of Bitter Lake NWRs most important monitoring needs.  It will also provide quantitative habitat information that is collected concurrent with systematic population monitoring.  We hope to be able to accurately describe the species distribution on the refuge, develop an abundance estimate, and describe habitat characteristics where it is found.  In addition, knowledge of Pecos assiminea occurrence on the refuge will allow managers to avoid impacts to known habitats and to prioritize habitat areas in need of restoration.  (Project undertaken in consultation USFWS-Ecological Services and New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish)

Black-tailed prairie dog monitoring on refuges:  Black-tailed prairie dogs are a keystone species and are vital to the health of western grasslands, including grasslands occurring on refuges within their native range.  Black-tailed prairie dog populations have declined dramatically and they were recently a candidate for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act, although listing was not warranted.  This project addresses their monitoring needs at Buffalo Lake, Muleshoe, and Maxwell NWR.  We will annually monitor the size (area) of black-tailed prairie dog colonies and estimate their population numbers.  Information will be used to monitor both the species status on refuges and how they respond to management actions.

Evaluation of historic playa wetland inundation frequenciesUsing Landsat and other imagery, we will describe the inundation patterns of playas from the 1970s though now.  This project will help determine how changing irrigation practices and climate have influenced playa inundation patterns.  The information will be used to prioritize playa conservation efforts by both the National Wildlife Refuge System and other agencies/organizations.  (With USGS Cooperative Wildlife and Fisheries Research Unit at Kansas State and Steve Sesnie)

Previous Projects:
I worked on coastal and playa related habitat projects and waterfowl/wetlands research for over 14 years with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Research projects with Texas Parks and Wildlife included lead levels in Mottled Ducks, population genetics of Mottled Ducks, avian cholera in Snow Geese, migration chronology of waterfowl and playa wetland inundation patterns.

M.Sc., 1995, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, Wildlife
B.Sc., 1991, Northwestern State University-Natchitoches, Louisiana, Business Administration
B.A., 1991, Northwestern State University-Natchitoches, Louisiana, English

Scientific Interests:
Playa Wetlands, Wetland Ecology and Management, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, Avian Ecology, and Applied Research and Monitoring (effectiveness monitoring)

Other interests:
In addition to being a Parrothead, I enjoy spending time with family, waterfowl hunting, upland bird hunting, retriever training, reading, running, learning to fly-fish, and LSU sports (GEAUX Tigers!).

W.P. Johnson, P.M.Schmidt, D.P. Taylor.  2014.   Foraging flight distances of wintering ducks and geese: a review.  Avian Conservation and Ecology 9(2): 2  (Article 2)

Ray, J.C., W.P. Johnson, J.D. Ray, and Ray-LythrumSalicaria06-11-14Fig1R.T. Kazmaier. 2014.  Notes on Lythrum salicaria L. in Texas and on its distribution on Palo Duro Creek, Randall County, Texas.  Phytologia 96(4):225-234.

Peters, J.L., S. A. Sonsthagen, P. Lavretsky, M. Rezsutek, W.P Johnson, and K.G McCracken.  2013.  Interspecific hybridization contributes to high genetic diversity and apparent effective population size in an endemic population of Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula maculosa).  Conservation Genetics 15(3):509–520.  DOI 10.1007/s10592-013-0557-9

Saalfeld, S.T., W.C. Conway, D.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson.  2013.  Seasonal variation in offspring sex ratio in the Snowy Plover.  Western North American Naturalist 73(1):60-71.

Saalfeld, S.T., W.C. Conway, D.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson.  2013.  Recent declines in apparent survival and survey counts of Snowy Plovers breeding in the Southern High Plains of Texas.  Wilson Journal of Ornithology 125(1):79-87. pdf

TexasWaterfowl_coverJohnson, W.P. and M.W. Lockwood.  2013.  Texas Waterfowl.  Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas. ISBN-13: 978-1-60344-807-1.

Saalfeld, S.T., W.C. Conway, D.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson.  2012.  Alleviation of nest thermal extremes by incubating Snowy Plovers in the Southern High Plains of Texas. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119(2):77-83. pdf

Saalfeld, S.T., W.C. ConwayD.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson.  2012.  Snowy Plover nest site selection, spatial patterning, and temperatures in the Southern High Plains of Texas. Journal of Wildlife Management 76(8):1703-1711.  DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.404. pdf

Garrettson, P.R., K.D. Richkus, F.C. Rohwer, and W.P. Johnson.  2011.  Factors influencing investigator-caused nest abandonment by North American dabbling ducks. Canadian Journal of Zoology 89(1):69–78. pdf

Johnson, W.P. , M.B. Rice, D.A. Haukos and P.P. Thorpe.  2011.  Factors influencing the occurrence of inundated playa wetlands during winter on the Texas High Plains. Wetlands 31(6):1287–1296. pdf

Saalfeld, S.T., W.C. Conway, D.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson2011.  Nest success of Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) in the Southern High Plains of Texas. Waterbirds 34(4):389-399.  pdf

Johnson, W.P. and P.R. Garrettson. 2010. Band recovery and harvest data suggest additional American Black Duck records from Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society 43:34–40. pdf

Johnson, W.P. , L. Baar, R.S. Matlack, and R.B. Barron. 2010. Hatching chronology of ducks using playas in the Southern High Plains of Texas. American Midland Naturalist 163(1):247–253. pdf

Andrei, A.E., L.M. Smith, D.A. Haukos, J.G. Surles, and W.P. Johnson. 2009. Foraging ecology of migrant shorebirds in saline lakes of the Southern Great Plains. Waterbirds 32(1):138–148.  pdf

Baar, L., R.S. Matlack, W.P. Johnson, and R.B. Barron. 2008. Migration chronology of nonbreeding waterfowl in the Southern High Plains of Texas. Waterbirds 31(3):394–401. pdf

Andrei, A.E., L.M. Smith, D.A. Haukos, and W.P. Johnson. 2007. Behavior of migrant shorebirds on saline lakes of the Southern High Plains. Waterbirds 30(3):326–334. pdf

Johnson, W.P. 2007. The importance of playas to migratory birds. Pages 13–18 in Playa Lakes Symposium 2007 (K.A. Cearley, ed.). Texas Cooperative Extension, College Station. pdf

Johnson, W.P. and F.C. Rohwer. 2007. Early nesting Blue-winged Teal in coastal Louisiana. Journal of Louisiana Ornithology 7(1):89–93. pdf

Hobson, K.A., S.V. Wilgenburg, L.I. Wassenaar, H. Hands, W.P. Johnson, M. O’Meilia, and P. Taylor. 2006. Using stable hydrogen isotope analysis of feathers to delineate origins of harvested Sandhill Cranes in the Central Flyway of North America. Waterbirds 29(2):137–147. pdf

Merendino, M.T., D.S. Lobpries, J.E. Neaville, D.J. Ortego, and W.P. Johnson. 2005. Regional differences in lead exposure in Mottled Ducks. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(3):1002–1008. pdf

Samuel, M.D., D.J. Shadduck, D.R. Goldberg, and W.P. Johnson. 2005. Avian cholera in waterfowl: the role of Lesser Snow and Ross’s Geese as carriers of avian cholera in the Playa Lakes Region. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 41(1):48–57. pdf

Samuel, M.D., D.J. Shadduck, D.R. Goldberg, and W.P. Johnson. 2003. Comparison of methods to detect Pasteurella multocida in carrier waterfowl. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39(1):125–135. pdf

Johnson, W.P. , R.S. Holbrook, and F.C. Rohwer. 2002. Nesting chronology, clutch size, and egg size in Mottled Ducks. Wildfowl 53:155–166. pdf

Rohwer, F.C., W.P. Johnson, and E.R. Loos. 2002. Blue-winged Teal, Anas discors. In Birds of North America, No. 625. (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Johnson, W.P.  2001.  Mottled Duck. In The Texas Breeding Bird Atlas. Version 1.10. (K. Arnold and K. Benson, eds.). Texas A&M University System, College Station and Corpus Christi.  link to article.

McCracken, K.G., W.P. Johnson, and F.H. Sheldon.  2001.  Molecular population genetics, phylogeography, and conservation biology of the Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula). Conservation Genetics 2(2):87–102. pdf

Loos, E.R. and W.P. Johnson.  2001.  Blue-winged Teal. In Texas Breeding Bird Atlas. (K. Arnold and K. Benson, eds.). Texas A&M University System, College Station and Corpus Christi.  link to article.

Johnson, W.P. and F.C. Rohwer.  2000.  Foraging behavior of Green-winged Teal and Mallards on tidal mudflats in Louisiana. Wetlands 20(1):184–188. pdf

Holbrook, R.S., F.C. Rohwer, and W.P. Johnson.  2000.  Habitat use and productivity of Mottled Ducks on the Atchafalaya River Delta, Louisiana.  Proceedings of the Annual Conference, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 54:292-303.  pdf

Johnson, W.P. and F.C. Rohwer. 1998. Pairing chronology and agonistic behaviors of wintering Green-winged Teal and Mallards. Wilson Bulletin 110(3):311–315. pdf

Johnson, W.P. and F.C. Rohwer. 1996. Disturbance of wintering Green-winged Teal and Mallards by raptors. Southwestern Naturalist 41(3):331–334. pdf

Johnson, W.P. , F.C. Rohwer, and M. Carloss. 1996. Evidence of nest parasitism in Mottled Ducks. Wilson Bulletin 108(1):187–189. pdf

Johnson, W.P. , P.R. Garrettson, and F.C. Rohwer. 1996. Confirmation of kleptoparasitism by American White Pelicans on Great Blue Herons. Colonial Waterbirds 19(2):262–263. pdf



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