Modeling Landscape-scale Habitat Relations for Landbirds during Migration

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Millions of migratory landbirds “stop over” in habitats near the Gulf of Mexico as they migrate across and around the gulf. Migration is a critical period in a migratory bird’s annual cycle, and migrants depend on stopover habitats to provide the food and cover needed to complete their journey. For some species, as much as 85% of annual mortality occurs during migration. Knowing the location and landscape composition where peak numbers of migrating birds consistently stop over is critical for conservation planning. USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientists are using weather surveillance radar data and landscape metrics to model bird-habitat relations within 80 km of four radar stations along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Reflectivity data collected from 2008-2012 were used to estimate migratory landbird density during spring and fall migration. Landscape variables were measured from 2006 Coastal Change Analysis Program, National Hydrography, and 2010 U.S. Census Bureau TIGER (Topographically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) datasets. Results of this research will support the conservation plans of the Gulf Coast Joint Venture by identifying the factors that characterize suitable migratory landbird stopover habitat.

Author Name
Wylie Barrow
Author Email