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Landscape and local effects on occupancy and densities of an endangered wood-warbler in an urbanizing landscape

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Reidy, Jennifer L.; Thompson, Frank R.; Amundson, Courtney; O'Donnell, Lisa

Year Published

2016

Publication

Landscape Ecology. 31(2): 365-382.

Abstract

Context. Golden-cheeked warblers (Setophaga chrysoparia), an endangered wood-warbler, breed exclusively in woodlands co-dominated by Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) in central Texas. Their breeding range is becoming increasingly urbanized and habitat loss and fragmentation are a main threat to the species' viability. Objectives. We investigated the effects of remotely sensed local habitat and landscape attributes on point occupancy and density of warblers in an urban preserve and produced a spatially explicit density map for the preserve using model-supported relationships. Methods. We conducted 1507 point-count surveys during spring 2011-2014 across Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) to evaluate warbler habitat associations and predict density of males. We used hierarchical Bayesian models to estimate multiple components of detection probability and evaluate covariate effects on detection probability, point occupancy, and density. Results. Point occupancy was positively related to landscape forest cover and local canopy cover; mean occupancy was 0.83. Density was influenced more by local than landscape factors. Density increased with greater amounts of juniper and mixed forest and decreased with more open edge. There was a weak negative relationship between density and landscape urban land cover. Conclusions. Landscape composition and habitat structure were important determinants of warbler occupancy and density, and the large intact patches of juniper and mixed forest on BCP ([2100 ha) supported a high density of warblers. Increasing urbanization and fragmentation in the surrounding landscape will likely result in lower breeding density due to loss of juniper and mixed forest and increasing urban land cover and edge.

Citation

Reidy, Jennifer L.; Thompson, Frank R.; Amundson, Courtney; O'Donnell, Lisa. 2016. Landscape and local effects on occupancy and densities of an endangered wood-warbler in an urbanizing landscape. Landscape Ecology. 31(2): 365-382. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-015-0250-0.

Last updated on: June 13, 2016