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Modeling Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo suitable habitat in Arizona over the next century

Date: July 23, 2019

In partnership with the Audubon Society, RMRS is modeling current and future suitable habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Arizona

Close-up of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo from the Grand Canyon. Picture courtesy of National Park Service
Yellow-billed Cuckoo from the Grand Canyon. Picture courtesy of National Park Service


Riparian habitats support a disproportionate amount of biodiversity within the southwestern U.S. Climate change and other disturbances are negatively impacting riparian habitats and the species that rely upon them. The western distinct population segment of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (wYBC), listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, has experienced severe population declines due to loss and fragmentation of riparian habitats. Arizona is thought to support the largest population of wYBC in the U.S., and the Tucson Audubon Society has worked to protect these birds and their riparian habitats on many fronts. Recently, wYBC have been found utilizing atypical habitats outside of the large contiguous lowland riparian areas. However, the extent to which these atypical habitats are being utilized, and whether they are newly utilized habitat or have always been utilized are unknown.


To best inform these efforts, Audubon needs better information on where wYBC may exist within the state and where these birds might persist under changing climate conditions. We are using MaxEnt and related models, which have proven reliable for estimating areas with potential suitability, to predict habitat suitability for wYBC under current and future conditions. 

Picture of a tree-lined river bottom, showing riparian habitat on the San Pedro River.
Riparian Habitat on the San Pedro River in southern Arizona. Picture courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.


Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Tessia Robbins, Contractor
External Partners: 
Jonathan Horst, Audubon, Tucson
Research Location: