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Modeling Habitat Associations for the Common Loon (Gavia immer) at Multiple Scales in Northeastern North America

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Author(s): Anne Kuhn | Jane Copeland | John Cooley | Harry Vogel | Kate Taylor | Diane Nacci | Peter August

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: ecoregion | Gavia immer | human disturbance | lake water quality | landscape context | multiscale landscape habitat models

ABSTRACT
Common Loon (Gavia immer) is considered an emblematic and ecologically important example of aquatic-dependent wildlife in North America. The northern breeding range of Common Loon has contracted over the last century as a result of habitat degradation from human disturbance and lakeshore development. We focused on the state of New Hampshire, USA, where a long-term monitoring program conducted by the Loon Preservation Committee has been collecting biological data on Common Loon since 1976. The Common Loon population in New Hampshire is distributed throughout the state across a wide range of lake-specific habitats, water quality conditions, and levels of human disturbance. We used a multiscale approach to evaluate the association of Common Loon and breeding habitat within three natural physiographic ecoregions of New Hampshire. These multiple scales reflect Common Loon-specific extents such as territories, home ranges, and lake-landscape influences. We developed ecoregional multiscale models and compared them to single-scale models to evaluate model performance in distinguishing Common Loon breeding habitat. Based on information-theoretic criteria, there is empirical support for both multiscale and single-scale models across all three ecoregions, warranting a model-averaging approach. Our results suggest that the Common Loon responds to both ecological and anthropogenic factors at multiple scales when selecting breeding sites. These multiscale models can be used to identify and prioritize the conservation of preferred nesting habitat for Common Loon populations.
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