Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Wildlife Habitat Use in Agriculture-Dominated Landscapes
by Nogeire, Theresa, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011, 129; 3482016
Abstract (Summary)

Conservation practitioners are increasingly looking to agricultural landscapes as potential habitat or movement areas for wildlife. Use of human-dominated landscapes for conservation is likely to increase as pressures from land use and climate change grow. A better understanding of wildlife use of agricultural lands is necessary if they are to be incorporated in conservation plans. My research addresses wildlife use of agriculture-dominated landscapes in California. In Chapter 1, I examine how a quantitative assessment of wildlife-habitat relationships can be used to predict impacts of land use change, using changes associated with biofuel production in California as a case study. I determined that the California Wildlife Habitat Relationship (CWHR) database systematically underestimates the value of agricultural habitats for wildlife, and I therefore updated the CWHR with extensive information compiled from literature and from interviews with California wildlife researchers and managers. The modified CWHR database correlated with field observations of birds across the state, indicating that the database has sufficient accuracy to be useful in predicting impacts of land use change.

In Chapter 2, I narrowed my focus to one agriculture-wildlife system: avocado orchards used by mammalian carnivores. I used remote-triggered cameras to document use of avocado orchards by mammalian carnivores, and found that most local carnivore species use orchards, and that avocado orchards are positively associated with number of detections of bobcats, gray foxes, and coyotes.

In Chapter 3, I examined individual movement data from four GPS-collared bobcats. I used compositional analysis methods to compare habitat selection and found that bobcats chose orchards more than would be expected based on their availability in the landscape. Next, I quantified movement rates in orchards versus other land use types and found that these animals move slowly through avocado orchards and at similar rates as in woodland and scrub vegetation, suggesting that avocados function as habitat on par with natural habitats. I used data on habitat selection and relative rates of movement to parameterize a connectivity model across the study region, and found that differentiating cropland from orchards changed the areas where animals were expected to move.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis, Frank
Commitee: Kendall, Bruce E., Rothstein, Stephen I.
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Environmental Science & Management
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Ecology
Keywords: Agriculture landscapes, Biofuels, Carnivores, Wildlife habitat
Publication Number: 3482016
ISBN: 978-1-267-02038-3
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