Resource Image

Riverbird distributions and habitat use

Author(s): John McLaughlin

Western Washington University

184 total view(s), 16 download(s)

0 comment(s) (Post a comment)

Summary:
Riverbirds are widespread, use diverse riparian habitats, and respond rapidly to changing conditions. Students can apply riverbird data to evaluate hypotheses about these responses, while gaining research experience, working collaboratively in…

more

Riverbirds are widespread, use diverse riparian habitats, and respond rapidly to changing conditions. Students can apply riverbird data to evaluate hypotheses about these responses, while gaining research experience, working collaboratively in teams, and contributing data to monitoring programs. In this project, students determine distributions and habitat use of birds associated with rivers. The module can be done by students in high school through graduate school, with applications ranging from simple comparisons of species count data to advanced analysis of habitat selection. Students collect data on birds and habitats while traveling downriver in boats. After collecting data, students compare habitats used by each species relative to habitats available by estimating resource selection functions with logistic regression in R. Results can be used to compare abundances and habitat use among species, river reaches, river management regimes. The module can be implemented on multiple river reaches and along diverse rivers to facilitate comparisons or synthesis across river basis. Module results can be applied to evaluate restoration or riparian management programs.
Contents:

Description

Riverbirds are widespread components of river systems. Diverse riverbird species use riparian habitats in differing ways. Riverbirds are mobile, allowing them to respond rapidly to changing river conditions. Most riverbirds are positioned several trophic levels above direct impacts to river systems, facilitating their use as integrative measures of ecosystem responses to anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic impacts. Students can apply riverbird data to evaluate hypotheses about these responses, while gaining research experience, working collaboratively in teams, and contributing data to monitoring programs.

In this project, students determine habitat use by a variety of bird species associated with rivers. The module would be appropriate for students in high school through graduate school, with applications ranging from simple comparisons of species count data to advanced analysis of habitat selection. Students collect data on birds and habitats while traveling downriver in boats. At least two boats and four people are required, but tasks can be divided to accommodate multiple boats and up to 20 people. In addition to boats and river safety gear, equipment needed includes a stopwatch, binoculars, bird identification guide, and either a GPS receiver or a river map. After collecting data, students determine longitudinal distributions of each species. Then they compare habitats used by each species relative to habitats available by estimating resource selection functions with logistic regression in the R open source statistical environment. This approach is easier to conduct and involves less uncertainty than conventional methods using ratios of random variables (Manly et al. 2002, McDonald et al. 2012). Data and analysis in this module can be used to compare abundances and  habitat use among species, river reaches, river management regimes. The module can be implemented on multiple river reaches and along diverse rivers to facilitate comparisons or synthesis across river basis. Module results can be applied in diverse contexts to evaluate restoration or riparian management programs.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows: