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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2365–2381 | Cite as

Landscape-scale distribution and density of raptor populations wintering in anthropogenic-dominated desert landscapes

  • Adam E. DuerrEmail author
  • Tricia A. Miller
  • Kerri L. Cornell Duerr
  • Michael J. Lanzone
  • Amy Fesnock
  • Todd E. Katzner
Original Paper

Abstract

Anthropogenic development has great potential to affect fragile desert environments. Large-scale development of renewable energy infrastructure is planned for many desert ecosystems. Development plans should account for anthropogenic effects to distributions and abundance of rare or sensitive wildlife; however, baseline data on abundance and distribution of such wildlife are often lacking. We surveyed for predatory birds in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of southern California, USA, in an area designated for protection under the “Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan”, to determine how these birds are distributed across the landscape and how this distribution is affected by existing development. We developed species-specific models of resight probability to adjust estimates of abundance and density of each individual common species. Second, we developed combined-species models of resight probability for common and rare species so that we could make use of sparse data on the latter. We determined that many common species, such as red-tailed hawks, loggerhead shrikes, and especially common ravens, are associated with human development and likely subsidized by human activity. Species-specific and combined-species models of resight probability performed similarly, although the former model type provided higher quality information. Comparing abundance estimates with past surveys in the Mojave Desert suggests numbers of predatory birds associated with human development have increased while other sensitive species not associated with development have decreased. This approach gave us information beyond what we would have collected by focusing either on common or rare species, thus it provides a low-cost framework for others conducting surveys in similar desert environments outside of California.

Keywords

Anthropogenic development Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Habitat associations Mojave Desert Predatory birds Raptors Sonoran Desert Surveys 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Bureau of Land Management, California State Office provided funding. This work is Scientific Article No. 3239 of the West Virginia Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Morgantown. We thank T. Esque and two anonymous reviewers for their comments that greatly helped to improve this manuscript. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Supplementary material

10531_2015_916_MOESM1_ESM.docx (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 110 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (out side the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam E. Duerr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tricia A. Miller
    • 1
  • Kerri L. Cornell Duerr
    • 2
  • Michael J. Lanzone
    • 3
  • Amy Fesnock
    • 4
  • Todd E. Katzner
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Forestry and Natural ResourcesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentWestminster CollegeNew WilmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Cellular Tracking Technologies, LLCSomersetUSA
  4. 4.Bureau of Land Management, California State OfficeSacramentoUSA
  5. 5.United States Department of Agriculture, Forest ServiceTimber and Watershed LaboratoryParsonsUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science CenterBoiseUSA

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