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Incorporating local habitat heterogeneity and productivity measures when modelling vertebrate richness

  • W Justin Cooper (a1) (a2), William J McShea (a1), David A Luther (a2) (a3) and Tavis Forrester (a1) (a4)


Declining species richness is a global concern; however, the coarse-scale metrics used at regional or landscape levels might not accurately represent the important habitat characteristics needed to estimate species richness. Currently, there exists a lack of knowledge with regard to the spatial extent necessary to correlate remotely sensed habitat metrics to species richness and animal surveys. We provide a protocol for determining the best scale to use when merging remotely sensed habitat and animal survey data as a step towards improving estimates of vertebrate species richness on broad scales. We test the relative importance of fine-resolution habitat heterogeneity and productivity metrics at multiple spatial scales as predictors of species richness for birds, frogs and mammals using a Bayesian approach and a combination of passive monitoring technologies. Model performance was different for each taxonomic group and dependent on the scale at which habitat heterogeneity and productivity were measured. Optimal scales included a 20-m radius for bats and frogs, an 80-m radius for birds and a 180-m radius for terrestrial mammals. Our results indicate that optimal scales do exist when merging remotely sensed habitat measures with ground-based surveys, but they differ between vertebrate groups. Additionally, the selection of a measurement scale is highly influential to our understanding of the relationships between species richness and habitat characteristics.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: W Justin Cooper, Email:


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Incorporating local habitat heterogeneity and productivity measures when modelling vertebrate richness

  • W Justin Cooper (a1) (a2), William J McShea (a1), David A Luther (a2) (a3) and Tavis Forrester (a1) (a4)


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