Shrublands and successional ecosystems are of special interest to land managers and conservation groups because to be maintained, they must be disturbed periodically. Shrubland birds rely on variation in the landscape, regular disturbance, and ephemeral patches of shrubs for breeding, foraging, and nesting. Many of these avian species are in decline, so monitoring and mapping shrublands is necessary for future conservation and management strategies (DeGraaf & Yamasaki, 2003; Howard et al., 2015; Litvaitis, 2003). Large proportions of shrubland bird populations rely on shrublands in the northeast states for breeding habitat, and the identification and land use monitoring of these regions are important for their continued survival. Remote sensing approaches were used for habitat modeling in this study because comprehensive field analyses of the status and condition of all the shrubland habitat in the study area (Monroe County, NY) would have been resource and labor intensive. To determine the quantity, distribution, and features of the quality of shrubland habitat in Monroe County, two types of models were created, and their similarities, differences, and accuracies were assessed. The first model used the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) and the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) to define optimal conditions for eight species of passerine songbirds based on habitat preferences found in literature. This classification produced an overall accuracy of 71.1% and a K coefficient of 0.65. The second model type was a supervised classification intended to find important patches of habitat not included in the NLCD classification scheme. The second classification yielded a different set of habitat requirements with an overall accuracy of 71.4% and a K coefficient of 0.66. A preliminary study on the separability of woody shrub species based on their spectral signatures was promising but inconclusive statistically and unable to be applied to high-resolution imagery to remotely determine invasive vegetation cover.
Environmental Science (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)
Susan Smith Pagano
Jan van Aardt
Allen, Rachel, "Habitat and Conservation Suitability Assessment for Shrubland Birds in Monroe County, New York" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus