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Projecting current and future location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for breeding birds in the Great Basin

Fleishman, E. and Thomson, J. R. and Kalies, E.L. and Dickson, B.G. and Dobkin, D.s. and Leu, M. (2014) Projecting current and future location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for breeding birds in the Great Basin. Ecosphere, 5 (7). art82. ISSN 2150-8925


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Publisher’s or external URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/es13-00387.1


We estimated the current location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for 50 species of breeding birds in four mountain ranges in the central Great Basin (Lander, Nye, and Eureka Counties, Nevada) and projected the future location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for these species given different scenarios of climate-induced land-cover change. In the United States, such models are relevant to federally mandated management of wild animals by state-level agencies. We sampled birds during the breeding seasons of 2001–2009 with fixed-radius point counts. For each species, we used boosted regression trees to model incidence (proportion of years a location was surveyed in which the species was present) as a function of topography and current land cover and climate. To assess model fit, we calculated the proportion of binomial deviance explained. We used cross-validation to estimate the predictive accuracy of the models. We applied the conservation planning program Zonation to identify locations where incidences of multiple species were maximized through time given current land cover and two scenarios of land-cover change, expansion of pinyon–juniper woodland into sagebrush shrubsteppe and contraction of riparian woodland. Models based on a set of 13 covariates derived from remotely sensed data had some predictive capacity for 41 of 50 species. Model outputs suggested substantial changes in amount of habitat for many species following projected expansion of pinyon–juniper woodland, but less pronounced changes following projected contraction of riparian woodland. Zonation analyses indicated that the spatial distribution of the highest-quality habitat for the avian assemblage was relatively consistent through time under both scenarios. Breeding birds in the Great Basin commonly are grouped in management plans on the basis of their general association with land-cover classes such as pinyon–juniper woodland, sagebrush shrubsteppe, and riparian woodland. However, even within these groups, the environmental attributes that explained a high proportion of variation in species' incidences and the projected responses to different scenarios of land-cover change varied considerably among species.

Item Type: Article
Publisher’s Statement: © 2014 Fleishman et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
ID number or DOI: 10.1890/ES13-00387.1
Keywords: abundance-occupancy relationships; alternative scenarios; climate change; climate-change; connectivity; conservation; environmental stochasticity; NEVADA; occupancy; pinyon-juniper; pinyon–juniper; Pinyon-Juniper woodlands; Remote sensing; riparian; sagebrush ecosystems; sage-grouse; species distribution models; species richness; USA; Zonation software
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Faculty/Staff
Department/Unit: Research Centers > Ecological Restoration Institute
Research Centers > Landscape Conservation Initiative
College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science > School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2015 06:03
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/652

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