Linking Behavioral States to Landscape Features for Improved Conservation Management

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Behavioral Change Point Analysis (BCPA) is a tool that analyzes changes in species’ movement and behavior.

From 2012-2017, USGS researchers tracked 54 golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts using GPS telemetry, modeled their behavior with BCPA, and then linked specific behaviors to characteristics of land cover and topography. Behaviors were grouped into four categories or states. Results showed that behaviors such as perching and low altitude hunting were associated with higher elevations, and steeper, more north-facing terrain. Medium-distance hunting and transiting occurred over gentle and south-facing slopes. This information can be used to assess how habitat loss, especially in connection to urban development and renewable energy sites, may affect golden eagle nesting and foraging selection. Findings can help guide conservation guidelines for this species through a more detailed understanding of how golden eagles use and are affected by change within the landscapes they inhabit.

Sur, M., Woodbridge, B., Esque, T.C., Belthoff, J.R., Bloom, P.H., Fisher, R.N., Longshore, K., Nussear, K.E., Tracey, J.A., Braham, M.A., Katzner, T.E., 2021, Linking behavioral states to landscape features for improved conservation management: Ecology and Evolution, v. 11, no. 12, p. 7905-7916,

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Date published: November 6, 2017
Status: Active

Conservation Ecology and Monitoring of Raptors

Raptors, or birds of prey, are often used to indicate the state of an ecosystem, and monitoring their populations can help us to understand ecosystem processes. Raptors are particularly good animals for monitoring because they are big and therefore charismatic and easy to observe. Whether we’re monitoring nesting biology and reproductive output, counting individuals on roads, or setting up...

Contacts: Todd E Katzner