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Mapping habitat quality and threats for eastern Black Rails (Laterallus jamaicensis jamaicensis)

December 23, 2021

Documenting the spatial distribution of high-quality habitat patches, the distributions of threats and protected areas, and the vulnerability of habitat patches to changes in environmental conditions is vital for conservation of rare species. Range-wide species distribution models were developed for Black Rails (Laterallus jamaicensis) to predict the distribution of high-quality habitat patches for breeding Eastern Black Rails (L. j. jamaicensis). Overlay analyses were conducted to quantify the distribution of habitat relative to human development and existing protected areas, as well as the vulnerability of the best habitat to future sea level rise. The amount of high-quality habitat varied among states (0.4-7.6% of area) and was relatively rare throughout the subspecies' range (3.3% of area). Human development was common but the amount varied spatially among states (2.2-15.3% of area). Higher-quality breeding habitat was more common on federal lands (9.4% of area) and protected areas (6.4% of area), yet 33-42% of the highest-quality habitat patches were vulnerable to sea level rise of 0.61-1.83 m. Our results imply that even though many of the highest-quality habitat patches may be less likely sites for development they are often vulnerable to rising seas, and thus maintenance of existing high-quality habitat patches may be difficult without management that takes into account the likelihood of future inundation.

Publication Year 2021
Title Mapping habitat quality and threats for eastern Black Rails (Laterallus jamaicensis jamaicensis)
DOI 10.1675/063.044.0211
Authors Bryan S. Stevens, Courtney J. Conway
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Waterbirds
Index ID 70229098
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle