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Title: The influence of vertical and horizontal habitat structure on nationwide patterns of avian biodiversity

Author: Culbert, Patrick D.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Flather, Curtis H.; Kellndorfer, Josef M.; Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Pidgeon, Anna M.;

Date: 2013

Source: The Auk. 130(4): 656-665.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: With limited resources for habitat conservation, the accurate identification of high-value avian habitat is crucial. Habitat structure affects avian biodiversity but is difficult to quantify over broad extents. Our goal was to identify which measures of vertical and horizontal habitat structure are most strongly related to patterns of avian biodiversity across the conterminous United States and to determine whether new measures of vertical structure are complementary to existing, primarily horizontal, measures. For 2,546 North American Breeding Bird Survey routes across the conterminous United States, we calculated canopy height and biomass from the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset (NBCD) as measures of vertical habitat structure and used land-cover composition and configuration metrics from the 2001 National Land Cover Database (NLCD) as measures of horizontal habitat structure. Avian species richness was calculated for each route for all birds and three habitat guilds. Avian species richness was significantly related to measures derived from both the NBCD and NLCD. The combination of horizontal and vertical habitat structure measures was most powerful, yielding high R2 values for nationwide models of forest (0.70) and grassland (0.48) bird species richness. New measures of vertical structure proved complementary to measures of horizontal structure. These data allow the efficient quantification of habitat structure over broad scales, thus informing better land management and bird conservation.

Keywords: biodiversity, biomass, Breeding Bird Survey, canopy height, NBCD, NLCD, structure

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Culbert, Patrick D.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Flather, Curtis H.; Kellndorfer, Josef M.; Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Pidgeon, Anna M. 2013. The influence of vertical and horizontal habitat structure on nationwide patterns of avian biodiversity. The Auk. 130(4): 656-665.

 


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