1 Tahrcountry Musings: Modelling patterns of habitat selection at multiple scales

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Modelling patterns of habitat selection at multiple scales

Using multi-scale modelling to predict habitat suitability for species of conservation concern: The grey long-eared bat as a case study
Orly Razgour,  Julia Hanmer and Gareth Jones
 Biological Conservation
Volume 144, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 2922-2930
Traditionally Habitat suitability modelling is used to study broad-scale patterns of species distribution. It also comes in handy to address conservation needs at finer scales.  
Sure, spatial scale is important to come to grips with ecological processes and guiding conservation planning. But studies combining a range of scales are rare. Here the researchers  studied the ability of presence-only species distribution modelling to predict patterns of habitat selection at broad and fine spatial scales for one of the rarest mammals in the UK, the grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus).
The researchers constructed models with Maxent using broad-scale distribution data from across the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) and fine-scale radio-tracking data from bats at one colony. Fine-scale model predictions were evaluated with radio-tracking locations from bats from a distant colony, and compared with results of traditional radio-tracking data analysis methods (compositional analysis of habitat selection).
The researchers say broad-scale models indicated that winter temperature, summer precipitation and land cover were the most important variables limiting the distribution of the grey long-eared bat in the UK. Fine-scale models predicted that proximity to unimproved grasslands and distance to suburban areas determine foraging habitat suitability around maternity colonies, while compositional analysis also identified unimproved grasslands as the most preferred foraging habitat type.
The researchers contend that this strong association with unimproved lowland grasslands highlights the potential importance of changes in agricultural practices in the past century for wildlife conservation. Hence, multi-scale models offer an important tool for identifying conservation requirements at the fine landscape level that can guide national-level conservation management practices.

1 comment:

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