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Landscape characteristics of fragmented shrubsteppe habitats and breeding passerine birds

Conservation Biology

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Abstract

We examined the influence of local and landscape-level attributes of fragmented habitats in shrubsteppe habitats on the breeding distributions of Sage (Amphispiza belli) and Brewer's (Spizella breweri) Sparrows, Sage Thrashers (Oreoscoptes montanus), Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris), and Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) in the Snake River Plains of southwestern Idaho. We developed habitat (resource) selection models for each species by combining bird counts conducted from 1991 through 1933 with local vegetation characteristics and landscape attributes derived from satellite imagery. Site selection by shrubsteppe species (Sage and Brewer's Sparrows, and Sage Thrashers) depended on local vegetation cover and landscape features, such as the patch size of shrub habitats or the spatial similarity of sites. Marginal sites for these species (with species present in one of three years) were intermediate between unoccupied (never present) and occupied sites along environmental gradients characterized by increasing size of shrub habitat patches and total shrub cover and by decreasing disturbance. Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks, typical grassland species, were not sensitive to landscape features, and their occupancy depended on the amount of grassland or shrub cover. In contrast to shrubsteppe species, sites that varied by occupancy rates of Western Meadowlarks did not significantly differ in vegetation or landscape components. Our results demonstrate that fragmentation of shrubsteppe significantly influenced the presence of shrub-obligate species. Because of restoration difficulties, the disturbance of semiarid shrubsteppe may cause irreversible loss of habitat and significant long-term consequences for the conservation of shrub-obligate birds.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Landscape characteristics of fragmented shrubsteppe habitats and breeding passerine birds
Series title:
Conservation Biology
Volume
9
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1995
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description:
p. 1059-1071
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Conservation Biology
First page:
1059
Last page:
1071
Number of Pages:
13