Challenges in updating habitat suitability models: An example with the lesser prairie-chicken

By: , and 



Habitat loss from land-use change is one of the top causes of declines in wildlife species of concern. As such, it is critical to assess and reassess habitat suitability as land cover and anthropogenic features change for both monitoring and developing current information to inform management decisions. However, there are obstacles that must be overcome to develop consistent assessments through time. A range-wide lek habitat suitability model for the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), currently under review by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act) was published in 2016. This model was based on lek data from 2002 to 2012, land cover data ranging from 2001 to 2013, and anthropogenic features from circa 2011, and has been used to help guide lesser prairie-chicken management and anthropogenic development actions. We created a second iteration model based on new lek surveys (2015 to 2019) and updated predictor layers (2016 land cover and cleaned/ updated anthropogenic data) to evaluate changes in lek suitability and to quantify current range-wide habitat suitability. Only three of 11 predictor variables were directly comparable between the iterations, making it difficult to directly assess what predicted changes resulted from changes in model inputs versus actual landscape change. The second iteration model showed a similar positive relationship with land cover and negative with anthropogenic features to the first iteration, but exhibited more variation among candidate models. Range-wide, more suitable habitat was predicted in the second iteration. The Shinnery Oak Ecoregion, however, exhibited a loss in predicted suitable habitat which could be due to predictor source changes. Iterated models such as this are important to ensure current information is being used in conservation and development decisions.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Challenges in updating habitat suitability models: An example with the lesser prairie-chicken
Series title PLoSOne
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0256633
Volume 16
Issue 9
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Public Library of Science
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description e0256633, 19 p.
Country United States
State Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
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