Skip to main content
Article
Scale-dependent habitat use in three species of prairie wetland birds
Landscape Ecology
  • David E. Naugle, South Dakota State University
  • Kenneth E. Higgins, United States Geological Survey
  • Sarah M. Nusser, Iowa State University
  • W. Carter Johnson, South Dakota State University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
6-1-1999
DOI
10.1023/A:1008088429081
Abstract
We evaluated the influence of scale on habitat use for three wetland-obligate bird species with divergent life history characteristics and possible scale-dependent criteria for nesting and foraging in South Dakota, USA. A stratified, two-stage cluster sample was used to randomly select survey wetlands within strata defined by region, wetland density, and wetland surface area. We used 18-m (0.1 ha) fixed radius circular-plots to survey birds in 412 semipermanent wetlands during the summers of 1995 and 1996. Variation in habitat use by pied-billed grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) and yellow-headed blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus), two sedentary species that rarely exploit resources outside the vicinity of nest wetlands, was explained solely by within-patch variation. Yellow-headed blackbirds were a cosmopolitan species that commonly nested in small wetlands, whereas pied-billed grebes were an area-sensitive species that used larger wetlands regardless of landscape pattern. Area requirements for black terns (Chlidonias niger), a vagile species that typically forages up to 4 km away from the nest wetland, fluctuated in response to landscape structure. Black tern area requirements were small (6.5 ha) in heterogeneous landscapes compared to those in homogeneous landscapes (15.4–32.6 ha). Low wetland density landscapes composed of small wetlands, where few nesting wetlands occurred and potential food sources were spread over large distances, were not widely used by black terns. Landscape-level measurements related to black tern occurrence extended past relationships between wetlands into the surrounding matrix. Black terns were more likely to occur in landscapes where grasslands had not been tilled for agricultural production. Our findings represent empirical evidence that characteristics of entire landscapes, rather than individual patches, must be quantified to assess habitat suitability for wide-ranging species that use resources over large areas.
Comments

This article is from Landscape Ecology 14 (1999): 267–276, doi:10.1023/A:1008088429081.

Rights
Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Language
en
File Format
application/pdf
Citation Information
David E. Naugle, Kenneth E. Higgins, Sarah M. Nusser and W. Carter Johnson. "Scale-dependent habitat use in three species of prairie wetland birds" Landscape Ecology Vol. 14 Iss. 3 (1999) p. 267 - 276
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_nusser/10/