Chapter 7: Identification and Assessment of Habitat Quality for Conservation of Terrestrial Animals


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BOOK EXCERPT: Modification and loss of the terrestrial habitats of many animal species is occurring globally at unprecedented rates and extents, but the magnitude of these changes can be challenging to document. The persistence of most animal populations varies in part as a function of the amount and configuration of their habitats. Accurate models and maps of land cover, topography, and the location, quantity, and quality of habitats are critical tools for effective guidance of management efforts for these species...In the later sections of this chapter, we focus in detail on occupancy-based statistical modeling as a current best method to determine which environmental characteristics (or covariates) are most strongly associated with where a species is found and are most likely to characterize habitat accurately. This method will be illustrated with a case study of habitat and occupancy modeling that combines multiple years of data on occurrence for two species of breeding birds in the central Great Basin (Nevada, USA) on the basis of ground-based and remotely sensed environmental data...Models and maps of animal-environment relationships, including habitat quality, are essential tools for modern conservation planning. Although these tools are evolving rapidly, we believe that the approaches and methods presented here are particularly well developed for most applications. There is no substitute for good data, and one should endeavor to identify and incorporate the best available information into models and maps. Robust estimates of habitat quality will better facilitate the provision and conservation of resources necessary to support populations of species. In the face of global climate change (see Bachelet, chapter 13) and continued human population growth (see Theobald, chapter 5), the tasks of identifying and assessing habitat quality for terrestrial animals will gain in importance.


Brett G. Dickson
President and Chief Scientist
Conservation Science Partners, Inc.
11050 Pioneer Trail, Ste 202
Truckee, CA 96161
Assistant Research Professor and Director
Lab of Landscape Ecology and Conservation Biology
School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5694

Steven E. Sesnie, Ph.D. 
Spatial Ecologist
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southwest Region
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306
AUTHOR Publications

David S. Dobkin, Ph.D.
Executive Director
High Desert Ecological Research Institute
15 S.W. Colorado Avenue, Suite 300
Bend, OR 97702

Erica Fleishman, PhD
John Muir Institute of the Environment
University of California, Davis
efleishman at ucdavis dot edu



ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: INTERACTIVE MAPS of Habitats (click on thumbnail to pan & zoom, 'view larger' to open window)

Habitat Mapping (view larger)



3-Scale & Time
4-Land Cover
5-Land Use
6-Focal Species
7-Habitats: Terrestrial
8-Habitats: Marine/Aq
9-Habitat Cores
11-Viability Analysis
13-Climate Change
14-Processes & Tools

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