Linking multi-temporal satellite imagery to coastal wetland dynamics and bird distribution

Ecological Modelling
U.S. Geological Survey; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Gulf Coast Joint Venture
By:  and 



Ecosystems are characterized by dynamic ecological processes, such as flooding and fires, but spatial models are often limited to a single measurement in time. The characterization of direct, fine-scale processes affecting animals is potentially valuable for management applications, but these are difficult to quantify over broad extents. Direct predictors are also expected to improve transferability of models beyond the area of study. Here, we investigated the ability of non-static and multi-temporal habitat characteristics to predict marsh bird distributions, while testing model generality and transferability between two coastal habitats. Distribution models were developed for king rail (Rallus elegans), common gallinule (Gallinula galeata), least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), and purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) in fresh and intermediate marsh types in the northern Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas, USA. For model development, repeated point count surveys of marsh birds were conducted from 2009 to 2011. Landsat satellite imagery was used to quantify both annual conditions and cumulative, multi-temporal habitat characteristics. We used multivariate adaptive regression splines to quantify bird-habitat relationships for fresh, intermediate, and combined marsh habitats. Multi-temporal habitat characteristics ranked as more important than single-date characteristics, as temporary water was most influential in six of eight models. Predictive power was greater for marsh type-specific models compared to general models and model transferability was poor. Birds in fresh marsh selected for annual habitat characterizations, while birds in intermediate marsh selected for cumulative wetness and heterogeneity. Our findings emphasize that dynamic ecological processes can affect species distribution and species-habitat relationships may differ with dominant landscape characteristics.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Linking multi-temporal satellite imagery to coastal wetland dynamics and bird distribution
Series title Ecological Modelling
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.04.013
Volume 285
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Science B.V.
Publisher location Amsterdam
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 12 p.
First page 1
Last page 12
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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