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Effective New Model for Predicting Shorebird Habitat

Cara J

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Seashore managers have a new tool to help them protect future habitat for the federally endangered piping plover. “A lot of the national parks and especially the national seashores along the East Coast are currently revising their general management plans,” said Katherina Gieder, a graduate student at Virginia Tech and lead author of a new study published recently in Ecological Modelling. “It’s a hugely important tool that managers can use.” Gieder and partners from the U.S. Geological Survey set out to develop and implement the model using geomorphological and piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nesting data from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland collected in 1999, 2002 and 2008. For those three years of data, she examined the physical features of plover breeding habitat that influence nesting suitability. Twelve variables, such as beach width, site fidelity, elevation and proximity to feeding grounds, were incorporated into the model, which proved to be extremely effective for predicting piping plover habitat on barrier islands. Researchers experienced model error of only about 5 percent overall, and occasionally as low as 2-3 percent. The model is based on a Bayesian network framework which, in this case, calculated the probably of suitable nesting habitat based on the [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/effective-new-model-for-predicting-shorebird-habitat/

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