Title: Using landscape suitability models to reconcile conservation planning for two key forest predators
Author: Zielinski, William J.; Carroll, Carlos; Dunk, Jeffrey R.
Source: Biological Conservation 133(4): 409-430
Protection of area-limited species is an important component of plans to conserve biodiversity, but the habitat needs of such species can be different and important habitats may not align with existing reserves. We used empirically derived landscape suitability models for the spotted owl and the fisher to evaluate the overlap in habitat suitability for these two old forest-associated predators in an area of northern California affected by the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), a bioregional conservation plan. The area includes designated Wilderness areas and new reserves (Late-Successional Reserves, LSRs) established under the NWFP. We used the site selection algorithm MARXAN to identify priority habitat areas for each species, and for both combined, and to compare these areas with reserves. Sites were selected under two constraints, to achieve a threshold proportion of total habitat value and to select new areas equal to the total current area in existing reserves. The rank correlation between predicted value for the two species was low (0.11), because areas of highest predicted habitat value were more widely distributed for the owl. This difference also meant that the sites selected to optimize habitat value were more aggregated for fishers than owls, resulting in greater overlap of owl habitat and current reserves. To capture 25%, 50% and 75% of total habitat value for the owl required 14.0%, 29.2%, and 47.3% of the planning units, respectively; capturing the same for the fisher required only 5.3%, 13.5%, and 27.2%. A combined owl-fisher scenario resulted in areas that overlapped only ~50% of existing reserves. The current location of LSRs may not be the best solution to maintaining well-connected habitats for these area-limited species in northwestern California. Whether LSRs are a better solution to protecting the diversity of other lesser-known taxa (i.e., salamanders and mollusks) is the subject of related work.
Keywords: Conservation planning, Landscape suitability, Fisher, Martes pennanti, Spotted owl, Strix occidentalis, Habitat suitability, Modeling
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Zielinski, William J.; Carroll, Carlos; Dunk, Jeffrey R. 2006. Using landscape suitability models to reconcile conservation planning for two key forest predators. Biological Conservation 133(4): 409-430
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