It is becoming increasingly clear that the spatial structure of landscapes affects the habitat choices and abundance of wildlife. In contrast to wildlife management based on preservation of critical habitat features such as nest sites on a beach or mast trees, it has not been obvious how to incorporate spatial structure into management plans. We present techniques to accomplish this goal. We used multiscale logistic regression models developed previously for neotropical migrant bird species habitat use in South Carolina (USA) as a basis for these techniques. Based on these models we used a spatial optimization technique to generate optimal maps (probability of occurrence, P = 1.0) for each of seven species. To emulate management of a forest for maximum species diversity, we defined the objective function of the algorithm as the sum of probabilities over the seven species, resulting in a complex map that allowed all seven species to coexist. The map that allowed for coexistence is not obvious, must be computed algorithmically, and would be difficult to realize using rules of thumb for habitat management. To assess how management of a forest for a single species of interest might affect other species, we analyzed tradeoffs by gradually increasing the weighting on a single species in the objective function over a series of simulations. We found that as habitat was increasingly modified to favor that species, the probability of presence for two of the other species was driven to zero. This shows that whereas it is not possible to simultaneously maximize the likelihood of presence for multiple species with divergent habitat preferences, compromise solutions are possible at less than maximal likelihood in many cases. Our approach suggests that efficiency of habitat management for species diversity can by maximized for even small landscapes by incorporating spatial context. The methods we present are suitable for wildlife management, endangered species conservation, and nature reserve design.
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Wildlife tradeoffs based on landscape models of habitat
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Proceedings of the 2000 NCASI West Coast Regional Meeting