Abstract

Shrubland, young forest, and other types of early successional habitats have historically declined due to a lack in anthropogenic and natural disturbances. This decline in disturbance-dependent habitats has impacted the populations of a variety of species, with some of conservation concern, such as the Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus). Using an iteration-reduction method for this project, a Habitat Suitability Model was created in ArcGIS Pro to assess NYSDEC Region 8 for potential habitat, and to assist with determining where the potential habitat was located within the area of interest. These potential habitat areas were ranked from “POOR” to “PRIME” based on literature-derived habitat parameters such as the presence of: 1) significant shrubland habitat, 2) significant urban areas, 3) a significant water source, and 4) significant coniferous forest. The model identified 11,047 potential sites distributed as “PRIME” (3550), “GOOD” (3543), “FAIR” (1462), and “POOR” (2492). eBird data used for verification had 585 eBird sightings that “hit”, or intersected with the model results, with 458 (78%) within “PRIME” sites, 50 (9%) within “GOOD” sites, 46 (8%) within “FAIR” sites, and 31 (5%) within ”POOR” sites. Sensitivity tests based on a maximum literature-derived home range were able to capture an additional 153 eBird sightings of the 467 eBird sightings that missed the model entirely, which increased the model sighting accuracy from 56% (585 eBird sighting hits) to 70% (738 eBird sighting hits). Although several factors associated with the verification data, National Land Cover Database (2011), and model constraints may be reducing the overall accuracy of the model, the results suggest that the model accurately identified “PRIME” habitat, but a majority of this habitat is on private land. Conservation efforts will need to focus on recruiting private landowners into managing shrubland, as well as to continue managing publicly owned lands, as part of the conservation strategy for the Ruffed Grouse.

Publication Date

8-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Student Type

Graduate

Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)

Advisor

Karl Korfmacher

Advisor/Committee Member

Jan van Aardt

Advisor/Committee Member

Susan Pagano

Campus

RIT – Main Campus

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