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Linking population viability, habitat suitability, and landscape simulation models for conservation planning


Michael A. Larson
Joshua J. Millspaugh



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station

Historical Station(s):

North Central Research Station


Ecological Modelling 180:103-118


Methods for habitat modeling based on landscape simulations and population viability modeling based on habitat quality are well developed, but no published study of which we are aware has effectively joined them in a single, comprehensive analysis. We demonstrate the application of a population viability model for ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus) that is linked to realistic landscape simulations using a GIS-based habitat suitability index (HSI) model. We simulated potential future characteristics of a hardwood forest in southern Missouri under two tree harvest scenarios using LANDIS. We applied three different versions of the HSI model (lower, best, and upper estimates) to output from the landscape simulations and used RAMAS GIS to link estimates of temporally dynamic habitat suitability, through fecundity and carrying capacity, to ovenbird population viability. Abundances and viability differed more between the upper and lower HSI estimates than between the two forest management scenarios. The viability model was as sensitive to the relationship between reproductive success and habitat suitability as it was to rates of first-year survival and reproductive success itself. Habitat-based viability models and the wildlife studies they support, therefore, would benefit greatly from improving the accuracy and precision of habitat suitability estimates. Combining landscape, habitat, and viability models in a single analysis provides benefits beyond those of the individual modeling stages. A comprehensive modeling approach encompasses all components and processes of interest, allows direct comparison of the relative levels of uncertainty in each stage of modeling, and allows analysis of the economic benefits and costs of different land use plans, which may be affected by landscape management, habitat manipulation, and wildlife conservation efforts. Using population viability, habitat suitability, and landscape simulation models in an integrated analysis for conservation planning is an important advancement because habitat quality is a critical link between human land use decisions and wildlife population viability.


Larson, Michael A.; Thompson, Frank R., III; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Dijak, William D.; Shifley, Stephen R. 2004. Linking population viability, habitat suitability, and landscape simulation models for conservation planning. Ecological Modelling 180:103-118


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