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Petaluma, CA, United States

Ausprey I.J.,University of Florida | Seavy N.E.,Point Blue Conservation Science
Condor | Year: 2015

Wildfire is an important disturbance regime that can structure wildlife communities and their habitats for many years. Using a before-after-control-impact framework, we evaluated the effect of the Quartz Fire on a mixed broadleaf- conifer forest and associated bird community in southwestern Oregon, USA, over 10 yr. To assess whether fire severity explained changes better than simply whether an area was burned, we used a tiered sampling approach by comparing unburned control points with either all burned points combined (burned) or those same points partitioned by severity level (low, moderate, high). As expected, overall tree cover decreased while cover of shrubs increased in response to greater fire severity. This pattern was most pronounced in high-severity areas, where tree cover declined by 40% and remained depressed, but shrub cover recovered from 10% the year following fire to 75% by year 6. Ordinations of bird species density showed turnover in community composition in all burned areas combined, as well as in moderate-severity areas, shifting to a shrub-associated community 9 yr postfire. For individual species, annual density variations were best explained by fire for 14 of 37 species, with fire severity providing the best-fitting model for 7 species. Of those 7 species, 3 declined and 4 increased with greater severity. When grouped into guilds, flycatching foragers and shrub nesters increased with greater fire severity. Our results illustrate the importance of mixed-severity wildfire in creating diverse vegetation structure and composition that supports distinct bird communities for at least a decade following fire. © 2015 Cooper Ornithological Society.

Michael P.E.,Hawaii Pacific University | Jahncke J.,Point Blue Conservation Science | Hyrenbach K.D.,Hawaii Pacific University
Fisheries Oceanography | Year: 2014

Effective conservation of highly mobile species requires an understanding of the factors that influence their habitat use patterns, locally and within a large-scale oceanographic context. We characterized the seasonal (chick-rearing, post-breeding) and inter-annual (2004-2008) distribution and abundance of black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes; BFAL) along the central California continental shelf/slope using standardized vessel-based surveys. We used a hypothesis-based information-theoretic approach to quantify the relative influence of environmental conditions on BFAL occurrence and abundance by assessing their association with: (i) local static bathymetric features, (ii) local and regional dynamic oceanographic processes, and (iii) seasonal and inter-annual basin-wide variability. While the presence/absence models yielded stronger results than the abundance models, both revealed that static and dynamic features influence BFAL habitat use. Specifically, occurrence was greatest near the shelf-break, particularly in months with strong upwelling. High BFAL densities were associated with Rittenburg Bank, especially during the chick-rearing season, periods of positive North Pacific Gyre Oscillation index and large northern monthly upwelling, evidenced by cool, salty waters in the study area. BFAL aggregation intensity was greatest onshore of the shelf-break (200 m isobath). Behavioral observations reinforced the notion that transiting BFAL are widely dispersed near the shelf-break and concentrate in large flocks of birds sitting on the water farther onshore. These results underscore the need to consider oceanographic processes at multiple spatial scales when interpreting changes in BFAL dispersion within marine sanctuaries, and highlight the feasibility of implementing bathymetrically defined protected areas targeting predictable BFAL aggregations within these larger management jurisdictions. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Lyver P.O'B.,Landcare Research | Barron M.,Landcare Research | Barton K.J.,Bartonk Solutions | Ainley D.G.,H. T. Harvey and Associates Ecological Consultants | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Measurements of the size of Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colonies of the southern Ross Sea are among the longest biologic time series in the Antarctic. We present an assessment of recent annual variation and trends in abundance and growth rates of these colonies, adding to the published record not updated for more than two decades. High angle oblique aerial photographic surveys of colonies were acquired and penguins counted for the breeding seasons 1981-2012. In the last four years the numbers of Adélie penguins in the Ross and Beaufort Island colonies (southern Ross Sea metapopulation) reached their highest levels since aerial counts began in 1981. Results indicated that 855,625 pairs of Adélie penguins established breeding territories in the western Ross Sea, with just over a quarter (28%) of those in the southern portion, constituting a semi-isolated metapopulation (three colonies on Ross Island, one on nearby Beaufort Island). The southern population had a negative per capita growth rate of -0.019 during 1981-2000, followed by a positive per capita growth rate of 0.067 for 2001-2012. Colony growth rates for this metapopulation showed striking synchrony through time, indicating that large-scale factors influenced their annual growth. In contrast to the increased colony sizes in the southern population, the patterns of change among colonies of the northern Ross Sea were difficult to characterize. Trends were similar to southern colonies until the mid-1990s, after which the signal was lost owing to significantly reduced frequency of surveys. Both climate factors and recovery of whale populations likely played roles in the trends among southern colonies until 2000, after which depletion of another trophic competitor, the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), may explain the sharp increasing trend evident since then. © 2014 Lyver et al.

Lescroel A.,University of Rennes 1 | Lescroel A.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Ballard G.,Point Blue Conservation Science | Gremillet D.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

In the context of predicted alteration of sea ice cover and increased frequency of extreme events, it is especially timely to investigate plasticity within Antarctic species responding to a key environmental aspect of their ecology: sea ice variability. Using 13 years of longitudinal data, we investigated the effect of sea ice concentration (SIC) on the foraging efficiency of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding in the Ross Sea. A 'natural experiment' brought by the exceptional presence of giant icebergs during 5 consecutive years provided unprecedented habitat variation for testing the effects of extreme events on the relationship between SIC and foraging efficiency in this sea-ice dependent species. Significant levels of phenotypic plasticity were evident in response to changes in SIC in normal environmental conditions. Maximum foraging efficiency occurred at relatively low SIC, peaking at 6.1% and decreasing with higher SIC. The 'natural experiment' uncoupled efficiency levels from SIC variations. Our study suggests that lower summer SIC than currently observed would benefit the foraging performance of Adélie penguins in their southernmost breeding area. Importantly, it also provides evidence that extreme climatic events can disrupt response plasticity in a wild seabird population. This questions the predictive power of relationships built on past observations, when not only the average climatic conditions are changing but the frequency of extreme climatic anomalies is also on the rise. © 2014 Lescroël et al.

Betts M.G.,Oregon State University | Fahrig L.,Carleton University | Hadley A.S.,Oregon State University | Halstead K.E.,Oregon State University | And 5 more authors.
Ecography | Year: 2014

Theoretical models predict strong influences of habitat loss and fragmentation on species distributions and demography, but empirical studies have shown relatively inconsistent support across species and systems. We argue that species' responses to landscape-scale habitat loss and fragmentation are likely to appear less idiosyncratic if it is recognized that species perceive the same landscapes in different ways. We present a new quantitative approach that uses species distribution models (SDMs) to measure landscapes (e.g. patch size, isolation, matrix amount) from the perspective of individual species. First, we briefly summarize the few efforts to date demonstrating that once differences in habitat distributions are controlled, consistencies in species' responses to landscape structure emerge. Second, we present a detailed example providing step-by-step methods for application of a species-centered approach using freely available land-cover data and recent statistical modeling approaches. Third, we discuss pitfalls in current applications of the approach and recommend avenues for future developments. We conclude that the species-centered approach offers considerable promise as a means to test whether sensitivity to habitat loss and fragmentation is mediated by phylogenetic, ecological, and life-history traits. Cross-species generalities in responses to habitat loss and fragmentation will be challenging to uncover unless landscape mosaics are defined using models that reflect differing species-specific distributions, functional connectivity, and domains of scale. The emergence of such generalities would not only enhance scientific understanding of biotic processes driving fragmentation effects, but would allow managers to estimate species sensitivities in new regions. © 2014 The Authors.

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