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Open-File Report 2013–1100

Prepared in cooperation with the University of Arizona

Use of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Habitat Models to Predict Breeding Birds on the San Pedro River, Arizona

By Tiffany Marie McFarland and Charles van Riper III


Successful management practices of avian populations depend on understanding relationships between birds and their habitat, especially in rare habitats, such as riparian areas of the desert Southwest. Remote-sensing technology has become popular in habitat modeling, but most of these models focus on single species, leaving their applicability to understanding broader community structure and function largely untested. We investigated the usefulness of two Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) habitat models to model avian abundance and species richness on the upper San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona. Although NDVI was positively correlated with our bird metrics, the amount of explained variation was low. We then investigated the addition of vegetation metrics and other remote-sensing metrics to improve our models. Although both vegetation metrics and remotely sensed metrics increased the power of our models, the overall explained variation was still low, suggesting that general avian community structure may be too complex for NDVI models.

First posted May 22, 2013

For additional information contact:
Station Leader, Sonoran Desert Research Station
Southwest Biological Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
1110 E. South Campus Drive
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721

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Suggested citation:

McFarland, T. M. and van Riper, Charles III, 2013, Use of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) habitat models to predict breeding birds on the San Pedro River, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1100. 42 p.



Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Present Study

References Cited

Appendix A: Extension of Riparian NDVI Models to Avian Abundance and Richness

Appendix B: Comparison of NDVI Models for Riparian Avian Abundance and Species Richness

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