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Code from: Metrics for conservation success: using the bird‐friendliness index to evaluate grassland and aridland bird community resilience across the Northern Great Plains ecosystem

Citation

Michel, Nicole (2021), Code from: Metrics for conservation success: using the bird‐friendliness index to evaluate grassland and aridland bird community resilience across the Northern Great Plains ecosystem, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gxd2547jj

Abstract

Aim: Evaluating conservation effectiveness is essential to protect at‐risk species and to maximize the limited resources available to land managers. Over 60% of North American grassland and aridlands have been lost since the 1800s. Birds in these habitats are among the most imperilled in North America, yet most remaining habitats are unprotected. Despite the need to measure impact, conservation efforts on private and working lands are rarely evaluated, due in part to limited availability of suitable methods.

Location: Northern Great Plains of North America.

Methods: We developed a novel metric to evaluate grassland and aridland bird community response to habitat management, the Bird‐Friendliness Index (BFI), consisting of density estimates of grassland and aridland birds weighted by conservation need and a functional diversity metric to incorporate resiliency. We used the BFI to identify ecologically significant areas for grassland and aridland birds and compared them with other prioritizations. Then, we used the BFI to evaluate the effects of simulated habitat management on grassland and aridland bird communities.

Results: The most resilient bird communities were found in the Prairie Potholes region of Alberta, Saskatchewan and North Dakota and the lowest BFI values in the southern and western regions of the Northern Great Plains. BFI values were significantly greater in areas included in one or more prioritization, and increased with the number of prioritizations an area was included within. BFI values increased in response to simulated bird‐friendly habitat management.

Main conclusions: Our findings suggest that practices recommended for use in bird‐friendly grassland habitat management plans will increase the abundance and resilience of the grassland and aridland bird community and that bird community responses to management will be detected using the BFI. The BFI is a tool by which conservationists and managers can carry out adaptive management and accountable conservation now and into the future.

Methods

This packages consists of 5 R scripts that contain the code necessary to calculate the Bird-Friendliness Index from publicly available Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions data. It also includes code to conduct the simulated habitat management modeling presented in the paper, as well as the sensitivity analysis. 

Usage Notes

The user will need to access and download Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions point count data, which is publicly available through the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies' Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center at http://rmbo.org/v3/avian/Home.aspx. The user will also need publicly available environmental covariate rasters for conducting the bird-habitat modeling. 

Funding

Margaret A. Cargill Foundation