Planning for bird conservation has become increasingly reliant on remote sensing, geographical information systems, and, especially, models used to predict the occurrence of bird species as well as their density and demographics. We address the role of such tools by contrasting two models used in bird conservation. One, the Mallard ( Anas platyrhynchos) productivity model, is very detailed, mechanistic, and based on an enormous body of research. The Mallard model has been extensively used with success to guide management efforts for Mallards and certain other species of ducks. The other model, the concept of Bird Conservation Areas, is more simple, less mechanistic, and less well-grounded in research. This concept proposes that large patches of suitable habitat in a proper landscape will be adequate to maintain populations of birds. The Bird Conservation Area concept recently has been evaluated in the northern tallgrass prairie, where its fundamental assumptions have been found not to hold consistently. We argue that a more comprehensive understanding of the biology of individual species, and how they respond to habitat features, will be essential before we can use remotely sensed information and geographic information system products with confidence.
Additional Publication Details
Federal Government Series
Planning for bird conservation: a tale of two models