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Integrating multiple data sources and multi-scale land-cover data to model the distribution of a declining amphibian

December 30, 2019

Determining the spatial scale at which landscape features influence population persistence is an important task for conservation planning. One challenge is that sampling biases confound factors that influence species occurrence and survey effort. Recent developments in Point Process Models (PPMs) enable researchers to disentangle the sampling process from ecological drivers of species' distributions. Land-cover change is a driver of decline for the western spadefoot (Spea hammondii), which has been extirpated from much of its range in California. Assessing this species' status requires information on the current distribution of suitable habitat within its historical range, but little is known about the effect of the landscape surrounding breeding ponds on spadefoot occurrence. Critically, surveys for western spadefoots often occur along roads, potentially biasing data used to fit species distribution models. We created PPMs integrating historical presence/non-detection and presence-only data for western spadefoots and land-cover data at multiple spatial scales to model the distribution of this species while removing the influence of sampling bias. There was spatial sampling bias in presence-only data; records were more likely to be reported near roads and urban centers and PPMs that removed sampling bias outperformed models that ignored sampling bias. The occurrence of western spadefoots was positively related to the proportion of grassland within a 2000 m buffer. The remaining habitat for western spadefoots is largely found in the foothills surrounding California's Central Valley. Our study illustrates how PPMs can improve projections of habitat suitability and our understanding of the drivers of species' distributions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Integrating multiple data sources and multi-scale land-cover data to model the distribution of a declining amphibian
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108374
Authors Jonathan P. Rose, Brian J. Halstead, Robert N. Fisher
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Index ID 70208092
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center