Assessing Landscape Constraints on Species Abundance: Does the Neighborhood Limit Species Response to Local Habitat Conservation Programs?
PLOS ONE, June 2014
Christopher F. Jorgensen, Larkin A. Powell, Jeffery J. Lusk, Andrew A. Bishop, Joseph J. Fontaine
Landscapes in agricultural systems continue to undergo significant change, and the loss of biodiversity is an ever-increasing threat. Although habitat restoration is beneficial, management actions do not always result in the desired outcome. Managers must understand why management actions fail; yet, past studies have focused on assessing habitat attributes at a single spatial scale, and often fail to consider the importance of ecological mechanisms that act across spatial scales. We located survey sites across southern Nebraska, USA and conducted point counts to estimate Ring-necked Pheasant abundance, an economically important species to the region, while simultaneously quantifying landscape effects using a geographic information system. To identify suitable areas for allocating limited management resources, we assessed land cover relationships to our counts using a Bayesian binomial-Poisson hierarchical model to construct predictive Species Distribution Models of relative abundance. Our results indicated that landscape scale land cover variables severely constrained or, alternatively, facilitated the positive effects of local land management for Ring-necked Pheasants.
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