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    Context Conservation planning for at-risk species requires understanding of where species are likely to occur, how many individuals are likely to be supported on a given landscape, and the ability to monitor those changes through time.
    Objectives We developed a distribution model for northern spotted owls that incorporates both habitat suitability and probability of territory occupancy while accounting for interspecies competition.
    Methods We developed range-wide habitat suitability maps for two time periods (1993 and 2012) for northern spotted owls that accounted for regional differences in habitat use and home range size. We used these maps for a long-term demographic monitoring study area to assess habitat change and estimate the number of potential territories based on available habitat for both time periods. We adjusted the number of potential territories using known occupancy rates to estimate owl densities for both time periods. We evaluated our range-wide habitat suitability model using independent survey data.
    Results Our range-wide habitat maps predicted areas suitable for territorial spotted owl presence well. On the demographic study area, the amount of habitat declined 19.7% between 1993 and 2012, while our estimate of the habitat-based carrying capacity declined from 150 to 146 territories. Estimated number of occupied territories declined from 94 to 57.
    Conclusions Conservation and recovery of at-risk species depends on understanding how habitat changes over time in response to factors such as wildfire, climate change, biological invasions, and interspecies competition, and how these changes influence species distribution. We demonstrate a model-based approach that provides an effective planning tool.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Glenn, Elizabeth M.; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Davis, Raymond J.; Hollen, Bruce; Poopatanapong, Anne. 2017. Estimating density of a territorial species in a dynamic landscape. Landscape Ecology. 32(3): 563-579.


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    Habitat modeling, carrying capacity, occupancy rates, territory density, northern spotted owl

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