Shorebird monitoring using spatially explicit occupancy and abundance

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Loss of habitat and human disturbance are major factors in the worldwide decline of shorebird populations, including that of the threatened migratory piping plover (Charadrius melodus). From 2013 to 2018, we conducted land-based surveys of the shorebird community every other week during the peak piping plover season (September to March). We assessed the ability of a thin plate spline occupancy model to identify hotspot locations on Whiskey Island, Louisiana, for the piping plover and four additional shorebird species (Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia), snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus), American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), and red knot (Calidris canutus)). By fitting single-species occupancy models with geographic thin plate spline parameters, hotspot priority regions for conserving piping plovers and the multispecies shorebird assemblage were identified on the island. The occupancy environmental covariate, distance to the coastline, was weakly fitting, where the spatially explicit models were heavily dependent on the spatial spline parameter for distribution estimation. Additionally, the detectability parameters for Julian date and tide stage affected model estimations, resulting in seemingly inflated estimates compared to assuming perfect detection. The models predicted species distributions, biodiversity, high-use habitats for conservation, and multispecies conservation areas using a thin-plate spline for spatially explicit estimation without significant landscape variables, demonstrating the applicability of this modeling approach for defining areas on a landscape that are more heavily used by a species or multiple species.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Shorebird monitoring using spatially explicit occupancy and abundance
Series title Land
DOI 10.3390/land12040863
Volume 12
Issue 4
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher MDPI
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 863, 15 p.
Country United States
State Louisiana
Other Geospatial Whiskey Island
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