Landscape Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 59–71 | Cite as

Methodological, temporal and spatial factors affecting modeled occupancy of resident birds in the perennially cultivated landscape of Uttar Pradesh, India

  • K. S. Gopi Sundar
  • Swati A. Kittur
Research Article


Biodiversity persistence in non-woody tropical farmlands is poorly explored, and multi-species assessments with robust landscape-scale designs are sparse. Modeled species occupancy in agricultural mosaics is affected by multiple factors including survey methods (convenience-based versus systematic), landscape-scale agriculture-related variables, and extent of remnant habitat. Changes in seasonal crops can additionally alter landscape and habitat conditions thereby influencing species occupancy. We investigated how these factors affect modeled occupancy of 56 resident bird species using a landscape-scale multi-season occupancy framework across 24 intensively cultivated and human-dominated districts in Uttar Pradesh state, north India. Convenience-based roadside observations provided considerable differences in occupancy estimates and associations with remnant habitat and intensity of cultivation relative to systematic transect counts, and appeared to bias results to roadside conditions. Modeled occupancy of only open-area species improved with increasing intensity of cultivation, while remnant habitat improved modeled occupancy of scrubland, wetland and woodland species. Strong seasonal differences in occupancy were apparent for most species across all habitat guilds. Further habitat loss will be most detrimental to resident scrubland, wetland and woodland species. Uttar Pradesh’s agricultural landscape has a high conservation value, but will require a landscape-level approach to maintain the observed high species richness. Obtaining ecological information from unexplored landscapes using robust landscape-scale surveys offers substantial advantages to understand factors affecting species occupancy, and is necessary for efficient conservation planning.


Farmland birds Intensity of cultivation Multi-season occupancy Remnant habitat 



K.S.G.S. thanks the following for their funding support: the Bell Museum via the University of Minnesota (UMN; Avian Conservation Fellowship, Dayton-Wilkie Fund for Natural History), the International Crane Foundation (ICF), the Kushlan Research Award in Ciconiiform Research and Conservation via the Waterbirds Society, The National Geographic Society’s Conservation Trust Grant, and graduate student fellowships via UMN. For support during field work we thank N. Rothman, B. Wright, J. Zajicek, ICF, the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, the Wildlife Protection Society of India, and field assistants. We are very grateful to the farmers who permitted field work on their lands. For helpful discussions during the design phase we thank T.W. Arnold, F.J. Cuthbert, and N. Jordan. We thank S. Bagchi, S. Galatowitsch, J. Harris, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10980_2011_9666_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1291 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Conservation Biology Program, University of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.International Crane FoundationBarabooUSA

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