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Modeling and Mapping Golden-winged Warbler Abundance to Improve Regional Conservation Strategies

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Author(s): Wayne E. Thogmartin

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 12;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: conservation design | hierarchical spatial count models | midwestern United States | regional conservation planning | species distributional modeling

ABSTRACT
Conservation planning requires identifying pertinent habitat factors and locating geographic locations where land management may improve habitat conditions for high priority species. I derived habitat models and mapped predicted abundance for the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), a species of high conservation concern, using bird counts, environmental variables, and hierarchical models applied at multiple spatial scales. My aim was to understand habitat associations at multiple spatial scales and create a predictive abundance map for purposes of conservation planning for the Golden-winged Warbler. My models indicated a substantial influence of landscape conditions, including strong positive associations with total forest composition within the landscape. However, many of the associations I observed were counter to reported associations at finer spatial extents; for instance, I found Golden-winged Warblers negatively associated with several measures of edge habitat. No single spatial scale dominated, indicating that this species is responding to factors at multiple spatial scales. I found Golden-winged Warbler abundance was negatively related with Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) abundance. I also observed a north-south spatial trend suggestive of a regional climate effect that was not previously noted for this species. The map of predicted abundance indicated a large area of concentrated abundance in west-central Wisconsin, with smaller areas of high abundance along the northern periphery of the Prairie Hardwood Transition. This map of predicted abundance compared favorably with independent evaluation data sets and can thus be used to inform regional planning efforts devoted to conserving this species.
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