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Integrating single-species management and landscape conservation using regional habitat occurrence models: the northern goshawk in the Southwest, USA

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Abstract

Conservation planners and land managers are often confronted with scale-associated challenges when assessing the relationship between land management objectives and species conservation. Conservation of individual species typically involves site-level analyses of habitat, whereas land management focuses on larger spatial extents. New models are needed to more explicitly integrate species-specific conservation with landscape or regional scales. We address this challenge with an example using the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), a forest raptor with circumpolar distribution that is the focus of intense debate regarding forest management on public lands in the southwestern USA. To address goshawk-specific habitat conservation across a management area of 22,800-km2 in northern Arizona, we focused on the territory scale rather than individual nest sites. We compiled a 17-year database of 895 nest sites to estimate territory locations. We then estimated the likelihood of territory occurrence for the entire management area using multiple logistic regression within an expert-driven, spatially balanced, and information-theoretic framework. Our occurrence model incorporated forest structure variables that were derived from USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis plots and high-resolution satellite imagery. Results indicated that high canopy-bulk density, intermediate canopy-base heights, and low variation in tree density were strong predictors of territory occurrence. We used model-averaged parameter estimates for these variables to map and explore patterns of territory distribution across multiple land jurisdictions and ecological subregions. Our iterative modeling approach complements previous demographic studies in the region. It also provides a robust framework for integrating species conservation and landscape management in ongoing and future regional planning efforts.

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Acknowledgments

We thank biologists with the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto National Forests for providing historical goshawk location data. Funding was provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Northern Arizona University Ecological Restoration Institute, The Grand Canyon Trust, and Northern Arizona University. C. Ray and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on earlier drafts of this work.

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Correspondence to Brett G. Dickson.

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Dickson, B.G., Sisk, T.D., Sesnie, S.E. et al. Integrating single-species management and landscape conservation using regional habitat occurrence models: the northern goshawk in the Southwest, USA. Landscape Ecol 29, 803–815 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-014-0013-3

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