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    Description

    Changes in land use and land cover have affected and will continue to affect biological diversity worldwide. Yet, understanding the spatially extensive effects of land-cover change has been challenging because data that are consistent over space and time are lacking. We used the U.S. National Land Cover Dataset Land Cover Change Retrofit Product and North American Breeding Bird Survey data to examine landcover change and its associations with diversity of birds with principally terrestrial life cycles (landbirds) in the conterminous United States. We used mixed-effects models and model selection to rank associations by ecoregion. Land cover in 3.22% of the area considered in our analyses changed from 1992 to 2001, and changes in species richness and abundance of birds were strongly associated with land-cover changes. Changes in species richness and abundance were primarily associated with changes in nondominant types of land cover, yet in many ecoregions different types of land cover were associated with species richness than were associated with abundance. Conversion of natural land cover to anthropogenic land cover was more strongly associated with changes in bird species richness and abundance than persistence of natural land cover in nearly all ecoregions and different covariates were most strongly associated with species richness than with abundance in 11 of 17 ecoregions. Loss of grassland and shrubland affected bird species richness and abundance in forested ecoregions. Loss of wetland was associated with bird abundance in forested ecoregions. Our findings highlight the value of understanding changes in nondominant land cover types and their association with bird diversity in the United States.

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    Citation

    Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Pidgeon, Anna M.; Albright, Thomas P.; Culbert, Patrick D.; Clayton, Murray K.; Flather, Curtis H.; Masek, Jeffrey G.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2012. Land-cover change and avian diversity in the conterminous United States. Conservation Biology. 26(5): 821-829.

    Keywords

    abundance, biodiversity, conservation, land-cover change, North American Breeding Bird Survey, richness

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