Quality Habitat (quality + habitat)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Effects of acidification on the breeding ecology of a stream-dependent songbird, the Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla)

Summary 1.,We compared breeding ecology of the Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) on acidified and circumneutral streams in the Appalachian Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania from 1996 to 2005. 2.,Headwater streams impacted by acid mine drainage and/or acidic precipitation showed reduced pH (range 4.5,5.5) compared to four circumneutral streams (pH c. 7). Acid-sensitive taxa, including most mayflies (Ephemeroptera), were almost completely absent from acidified streams, whereas several acid-tolerant taxa, especially stonefly (Plecoptera) genera Leuctra and Amphinemura, were abundant. 3.,Louisiana waterthrush breeding density (c. 1 territory km,1) was significantly reduced on acidified streams compared to circumneutral streams (>2 territories km,1). Territories on acidified streams were almost twice as long as on circumneutral streams. Territories usually were contiguous on circumneutral streams, but they were often disjunct on acidified streams. Breeding density declined on one acidified stream that we studied over a 10-year period. 4.,Clutch initiation was significantly delayed on acidified streams, on average by 9 days in comparison to circumneutral streams, and first-egg dates were inversely related to breeding density. Birds nesting along acidified streams laid smaller clutches, and nestlings had shorter age-adjusted wing lengths. Stream acidity had no effect on nest success or annual fecundity (fledglings/female). However, the number of young fledged km,1 was nearly twice as high on circumneutral streams as on acidified streams. 5.,Acidified streams were characterized by a younger, less site-faithful breeding population. Individuals were less likely to return multiple years to breed, allowing inexperienced breeders to settle on acidified streams. Pairing success was lower on acidified streams, and we observed four cases of waterthrushes emigrating from territories on acidified streams to nearby circumneutral streams in the following year. 6.,We conclude that acidified headwaters constitute lower quality habitat for breeding Louisiana waterthrush. However, breeding birds can apparently compensate for reduced prey resources to fledge young on acidified streams by increasing territory size, foraging in peripheral non-acidified areas, and by provisioning young with novel prey. [source]

Exploration correlates with settlement: red squirrel dispersal in contrasting habitats

Summary 1Dispersers in heterogeneous habitat theoretically should target the habitat(s) where reproduction and survival (i.e. fitness) will be highest. However, the cues that dispersing animals respond to are not well understood: differences in habitat quality ultimately may be important, but whether animals respond to these differences may be influenced by their own familiarity with different habitats. 2To determine if dispersers reacted to differences in habitat, we documented the exploratory movements, dispersal, and settlement patterns of juvenile North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) originating in adjacent patches of different habitats. 3Dispersers originating in mature, closed-canopy forest (linked to higher female reproductive success and smaller territories) did not explore contrasting open forest with lower tree densities, and the magnitude of the dispersers' explorations was relatively similar. In contrast, dispersers from the open forest habitat made explorations that carried them into contrasting, mature forest habitat, and their explorations were more variable across individuals. 4When settlement occurred, it was strongly philopatric in all groups of dispersers, although the distances and directions favoured during the exploratory phase of dispersal remained strong predictors of where settlement occurred. Overall, processes favouring philopatry (i.e. maternal influences, competitive advantages, etc.) appeared to dominate the dispersal of our study animals, even those that were exposed to higher quality habitat during their explorations. 5Secondarily, annual stochasticity (or some correlate) affected the scale of exploration and timing of settlement more than the relative quality of habitat in which dispersers were born. 6Studies such as this that seek to understand the relative importance of individual experience, habitat familiarity, and habitat quality are important to ultimately understanding how individual animals and populations react to habitat heterogeneity. [source]

Interactions between dispersal, competition, and landscape heterogeneity

OIKOS, Issue 7 2007
Ace North
It is widely acknowledged that space has an important role in population regulation, yet more specific knowledge into how the relevant factors interact attains little consensus. We address this issue via a stochastic, individual based model of population dynamics, in a continuous space continuous time framework. We represent habitat quality as a continuously varying surface over the two-dimensional landscape, and assume that the quality affects either fecundity (rate of propagule production) or probability of propagule establishment. We control the properties of the landscape by two parameters, which we call the patch size (the characteristic length scale in quality variation), and the level of heterogeneity (the characteristic quality difference between poor quality and high quality areas). In addition to such exogenous variability, we also account for endogenous factors causing spatial variation by assuming localised dispersal and competition. We find that heterogeneity has a general positive effect on population density, and hence it is beneficial to improve best quality habitat at the expense of worst quality habitat. With regards to patch size, we find an intermediate optimum, due to a conflict between minimising the loss of propagules to low quality regions and maximising the benefits of heterogeneity. We address the consequences of regional stochasticity by allowing the environmental conditions change in time. The cost of having to continuously track where the favourable conditions have moved to ultimately reduces population size. [source]

Benchmarking habitat quality: observations using River Habitat Survey on near-natural streams and rivers in northern and western Europe

Paul J. Raven
Abstract 1.Some ecological effects of physically modifying rivers are still unclear, partly due to scale factors, but also because the character of high quality habitat is poorly understood. 2.Surveys at 278 sites on 141 near-natural streams and rivers in northern and western Europe were carried out between 1994 and 2009 to benchmark the habitat quality assessment system used for River Habitat Survey (RHS). 3.The objectives were to establish if RHS was suitable outside the UK, investigate if 500 m was still valid as the survey length, suggest a benchmarking strategy and recommend improvements to habitat quality assessment protocols. 4.Some modifications to RHS are needed to take account of differences in hydrological conditions, land-use and, most importantly, riparian habitat structure found in mainland Europe. 5.On average, 82,87% of channel attributes and 87,98% of channel and bank features were recorded within the first of consecutive RHS sites, confirming that 500 m is an effective sample length for characterizing small rivers. 6.Stream-flow character appeared to influence the distribution of several in-channel features, with greater diversity and between-site variation associated with rivers of mixed flow-types. To account for local variation and for effective use of survey time, it is recommended that two or more consecutive RHS sites are used for benchmarking purposes. 7.A suite of assessment protocols with agreed criteria and analytical rules, linked to specific objectives (e.g. nature conservation, geomorphic condition), is needed to establish the character and habitat quality of rivers in a consistent fashion. 8.A multi-discipline benchmarking programme using hydro-ecological regions in Europe would build on existing knowledge and help to improve both the inter-calibration and local application of quality assessment protocols. Data-sharing by hydrologists, river ecologists and fluvial geomorphologists would improve the basis for managing rivers in support of the European Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive. Copyright 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Testing alternative models for the conservation of koalas in fragmented rural,urban landscapes

Abstract Predicting the various responses of different species to changes in landscape structure is a formidable challenge to landscape ecology. Based on expert knowledge and landscape ecological theory, we develop five competing a priori models for predicting the presence/absence of the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Noosa Shire, south-east Queensland (Australia). A priori predictions were nested within three levels of ecological organization: in situ (site level) habitat (<1 ha), patch level (100 ha) and landscape level (100,1000 ha). To test the models, Koala surveys and habitat surveys (n = 245) were conducted across the habitat mosaic. After taking into account tree species preferences, the patch and landscape context, and the neighbourhood effect of adjacent present sites, we applied logistic regression and hierarchical partitioning analyses to rank the alternative models and the explanatory variables. The strongest support was for a multilevel model, with Koala presence best predicted by the proportion of the landscape occupied by high quality habitat, the neighbourhood effect, the mean nearest neighbour distance between forest patches, the density of forest patches and the density of sealed roads. When tested against independent data (n = 105) using a receiver operator characteristic curve, the multilevel model performed moderately well. The study is consistent with recent assertions that habitat loss is the major driver of population decline, however, landscape configuration and roads have an important effect that needs to be incorporated into Koala conservation strategies. [source]

Effects of cover reduction on mulgara Dasycercus cristicauda (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), rodent and invertebrate populations in central Australia: Implications for land management

Abstract This study investigates the effect of cover reduction on the mulgara, Dasycercus cristicauda, a small marsupial classified as vulnerable to extinction, which occurs in areas of central Australia dominated by hummock grasslands. Loss or degradation of spinifex has been implicated in population declines of this species previously, but the importance of cover in maintaining quality habitat remains speculative. To determine the effect on D. cristicauda of cover reduction, caused by the harvesting of spinifex, we monitored population changes and changes in prey resources (rodents and invertebrates) before and after spinifex harvesting took place at a site near the Ayers Rock Resort, Northern Territory, Australia. Ten plots, each of 8.75 ha, were established and sampled from May 1994 to October 1995. Harvesting took place on five plots in August 1994, which reduced spinifex cover from 46 to 21% and the amount of spinifex >0.25 m high from 42 to 2%. Harvesting did not significantly affect the number of D. cristicauda known to be alive or captured despite other studies indicating that cover is an important habitat attribute. There was also no evidence that cover reduction impacted on the biomass of the invertebrate food resources. However, there was a significant reduction in the number of rodents captured. The lack of a response to cover reduction by D. cristicauda is possibly because the cover of Triodia remained high enough (above 15%) to sustain animals, and harvested areas were relatively small. This study therefore suggests that D. cristicauda can tolerate a moderate local reduction in cover of its preferred habitat. However, it remains possible that other land use practices that cause severe reduction of cover (including clearing for mining or fire prevention, grazing which may result in spinifex reduction through trampling, and fire management) will have more dramatic effects on D. cristicauda. Evaluation of such effects should be a priority for future research. [source]