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Wednesday, February 8 • 8:00am - 8:20am
Technical Session. The Importance of Scale in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Umbrella Species

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AUTHORS: Erica Stuber, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit UNL; Lutz Gruber, Quantco; Joseph Fontaine USGS Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit UNL

ABSTRACT: The umbrella species concept is used as a heuristic tool to aid conservation planning when more comprehensive information is limited and pressure for expediency is great. Umbrella species are typically chosen based on ecological predictions and are expected to confer protection on other co-occurring species with similar habitat requirements. Despite its popularity and substantial history, the effectiveness of the umbrella species concept in practice has come into question. The effectiveness of an umbrella species is affected by scale: when determining a suitable umbrella species, when collecting information regarding its habitat requirements, and in evaluating the potential protection conferred on co-occurring species. Although few studies have examined the relative importance of multiple spatial scales in explaining habitat relationships and species abundance past study-specific micro- versus macro-scales, the availability of remote-sensing data, and development of methods to handle such data structure are making these investigations possible. We employ a hierarchical Bayesian model selection approach to determine the spatial scales of habitat characteristics that best predict species abundance in 10 grassland bird species breeding in Nebraska. Next, we use the selected spatial scales to explore the cost of managing for a particular umbrella species predicted to conserve grassland bird species (Northern Bobwhite, Colinus virginianus). Because not all grassland birds respond to habitat characteristics at the same spatial scales, we cannot expect the Bobwhite to protect all grassland birds. We conclude that spatial scale should be considered as an explanatory variable in considering the effectiveness of umbrella species and demonstrate our model selection approach as a tool in evaluating the potential success, or costs associated with managing for specific umbrella species.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 8:00am - 8:20am CST
Grand Ballroom B