Research Article

Landscape Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 1465-1479

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Spatiotemporal scaling of North American continental interior wetlands: implications for shorebird conservation

  • Gene AlbaneseAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State UniversityDivision of Biology, Kansas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University Email author 
  • , Craig A. DavisAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
  • , Bradley W. ComptonAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Conservation, Holdsworth Natural Resource Center, University of Massachusetts


Within interior North America, erratic weather patterns and heterogeneous wetland complexes cause wide spatio-temporal variation in the resources available to migrating shorebirds. Identifying the pattern-generating components of landscape-level resources and the scales at which shorebirds respond to these patterns will better facilitate conservation efforts for these species. We constructed descriptive models that identified weather variables associated with creating the spatio-temporal patterns of shorebird habitat in ten landscapes in north-central Oklahoma. We developed a metric capable of measuring the dynamic composition and configuration of shorebird habitat in the region and used field data to empirically estimate the spatial scale at which shorebirds respond to the amount and configuration of habitat. Precipitation, temperature, solar radiation and wind speed best explained the incidence of wetland habitat, but relationships varied among wetland types. Shorebird occurrence patterns were best explained by habitat density estimates at a 1.5 km scale. This model correctly classified 86 % of shorebird observations. At this scale, when habitat density was low, shorebirds occurred in 5 % of surveyed habitat patches but occurrence reached 60 % when habitat density was high. Our results suggest scale dependence in the habitat-use patterns of migratory shorebirds. We discuss potential implications of our results and how integrating this information into conservation efforts may improve conservation strategies and management practices.


Scaling Multi-scale Scale dependence Landscape structure Wetland cluster Shorebird habitat Migration Landscape metric Weather patterns Prairie