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Data from: Finding clarity in ecological outcomes using empirical integrated social-ecological systems: a case study of agriculture-dependent grassland birds

Citation

Allen, Michael; Lockwood, Julie; Burger, Joanna (2020), Data from: Finding clarity in ecological outcomes using empirical integrated social-ecological systems: a case study of agriculture-dependent grassland birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j9kd51c9f

Abstract

1.    Efforts to monitor and conserve populations and ecosystems in human-dominated landscapes can benefit from an empirical social-ecological systems approach.
2.    Here we illustrate how latent variable structural equation modelling of regional time series data can effectively describe interconnected drivers of population fluctuations in dynamic landscapes and can help to reveal previously unknown system drivers.
3.    Using a declining farmland-dependent bird species (Ammodramus savannarum) in the eastern United States (1994-2015) as a case study, our analysis reveals how farm management decisions drive population fluctuations (R2 = 20%), while management is in turn highly influenced by climate (R2 = 23-51%), but not by regional conservation spending.
4.    Synthesis and applications. Structural equation modelling revealed potential social-ecological pathways for halting regional population declines in a grassland bird, the Grasshopper Sparrow. Lower population growth rates followed years of higher hay yields (~4 percentage points per metric ton increase in hay yield) and later harvests (~2 percentage points per 10-day delay in harvest). Thus, one pathway for stabilising regional populations could involve compensating farmers for reducing hay harvests, potentially requiring a six-fold increase in current annual agri-environmental conservation spending.

Methods

This data set was gathered from various sources published by federal agencies and in the public domain (U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics). Two variables (SPEND and deltaSPEND) contain data on conservation spending from the EWG Conservation Database (Source: Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission).

Variables were then converted into other units or processed / derived in various ways (e.g., adjusted for inflation, relativized by area). The specific data sources and processing methods used are described in detail in the Methods and Supporting Information (Appendices S2 and S3) of the accompanying manuscript (Allen, Lockwood, & Burger, 2020).

Allen, M. C.; Lockwood, J.; Burger, J. (2020). Finding clarity in ecological outcomes using empirical integrated social-ecological systems: a case study of agriculture-dependent grassland birds. Journal of Applied Ecology. (Manuscript number: JAPPL-2020-00322)

Usage Notes

The code and data for this study are provided as RMarkdown (.Rmd) and comma separated values (.csv) files, respectively. RMarkdown files are designed to run in the freely available RStudio program (https://rmarkdown.rstudio.com/) and contain both R code and formatted explanatory text. They can also be opened in text editing software to extract just the R code. If the .Rmd and .csv file are placed into the same folder on a computer, the code should link to the data within RStudio and allow reproduction of the analyses within the manuscript. Further instructions and comments on running the code, including descriptions of the variables contained within the .csv data file, are in the .Rmd file.