Avian Habitat Relationships at Multiple Scales

Personnel: Sean MacFaden, David Capen

Cooperators: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire Audubon, New Hampshire Fish and Game


Wildlife habitat relationships in forested landscapes are commonly based on associations between wildlife species and selected forest types and age classes (e.g., pole-sized paper birch). Using data from 360 point-count locations, we tested simple habitat-relationship models for 53 species of forest-dwelling birds in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine. Misclassification was common, attributed to both omission and commission. We then hypothesized that many bird species respond to more general features of the landscape, which led us to evaluate spatially-explicit habitat models. One set of models tests Ecological Land Types (ELTs) as predictors of avian occurrence; ELTs describe relatively contiguous areas with similar soil characteristics, topographical relief, and potential vegetation. A final set of habitat models reflects coarse-scale landscape charactersitics (e.g., configuration and patchiness) and is based on patterns of land cover as determined by remote sensing. We find that avian species respond to the landscape at different scales and that traditional habitat-relationship models are often misleading.

       Updated: 28 June 2000