Evaluating community-level response to management actions across a diverse Hawaiian forest bird community

Ecological Applications
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Although species‐specific approaches are necessary to understand the dynamics of individual species composing a community, they do not offer a framework for making optimal management decisions at the community level. Here, we present a simple framework for comparing the response of entire communities to multiple management scenarios. Our approach uses a weighted average of standardized species‐specific responses to produce a single integrative measure of the community response and employs mixed‐effect linear models to quantify the increase in the community response due to each management action, or combination of actions. We demonstrate our approach with a simulation study assessing the potential benefits of multiple management actions on the avian community of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaiʻi, which is composed of eight native species with conservation status varying from endangered to least concern. Management actions considered included a reduction of avian malaria transmission risk, reducing rat predation, and increasing forest habitat. We used three different prioritization (weighting) schemes to assess whether the response to management actions differed along a conservation gradient (from endangered to least concern). We also investigated whether future changes in disease distribution as a result of climate change will alter the relationship between management practices and community response. Our community‐level analysis produced three important insights, highlighting the need to consider the response from multiple species to changing threats and management actions. First, increasing the amount of habitat always had the greatest positive impact on the avian community, regardless of the weighting scheme. Second, the community response to management was different under current vs. future conditions, with increased benefit in the future when disease risks were higher. Third, the response to management varied along the conservation gradient. Reducing malaria transmission risk in 2100 had the greatest benefit to endangered species, while increasing forest habitat had the greatest benefit to “least concern” species. However, reducing rat predation appeared to benefit a subset of species based on ecological factors unrelated to rarity, such as nest accessibility. Our approach is widely applicable using experimental, observational, or simulation‐based data, allowing managers to consider the response of all species while weighting their priority levels.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluating community-level response to management actions across a diverse Hawaiian forest bird community
Series title Ecological Applications
DOI 10.1002/eap.1953
Volume 29
Issue 6
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1236
Last page 1246
Country United States
State Hawaii
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