How winter wetland habitat change over time affects songbird communities

A description of the research question that you are exploring.

For my research, I am exploring the relationship between the spatial pattern of the differences between present (2019) and past (1995) wintering songbird community composition metrics (abundance, richness, evenness, and weighted rarity) and the spatial pattern of landscape-level land cover variable changes (listed here: Landscape Variables) in the same timeframe via the mechanisms of change over time and landscape-level variable importance to habitat suitability. I will be looking at data for 20 wetland wintering habitat sites in the Corvallis area.

I am interested in comparing the community composition metrics (abundance, richness, evenness, weighted rarity) of songbirds from 1995 to those found in 2019. I will then look at how the above-mentioned landscape level variables at these sites (within a 100m buffer, 500m buffer, and 1km buffer from the wetland) have changed from 1995 to 2019 at those same sites to determine if and what variable changes influence songbird community composition.

Other spatial factors likely influence songbird community composition metrics but I am only concerned with those that were included in Adamus’s 2002 dissertation study.

A description of the dataset you will be analyzing, including the spatial and temporal resolution and extent.

I have species richness data in the form of a spreadsheet from 1995 including songbird abundance data for my 20 sites recorded via point count surveys from January 4th to March 20th. I have the same information collected by the same methods at those same sites from January 4th 2019 to March 20th 2019. I will use this data to calculate the species metrics (listed above).

I am still in the process of gathering my spatial datasets for this project. As of now, I have open source areal imagery from Google Earth Engine that my advisor used to analyze the sites in 1995 and that same areal imagery from 2019. I hope to locate LIDAR data, NVI data, and more sophisticated ground cover data for my sites in this class. One of the reasons I enrolled in this class was to get ideas and aid with obtaining this data.

Hypotheses: predict the kinds of patterns you expect to see in your data, and the processes that produce or respond to these patterns.

I predict that the greater the change in the landscape level variables at a site from 1995 to 2019 the greater the difference in community composition measurements between those years via the landscape level variables influence on habitat suitability for wintering songbirds. Additionally, I think the changes in the variables that my advisor determined to be most influential to wintering songbird community composition metrics at these sites in 1995 will have the greatest effect on the change in species measurements from 1995 to 2019. For example, he found that wetlands with a higher percentage of open canopy forest cover in the surrounding area had a positive correlation with high abundance (Adamus, 2002) at a site so I hypothesis that those sites that have lost the most open canopy forest will also have the greatest decrease in abundance.

Approaches: describe the kinds of analyses you ideally would like to undertake and learn about this term, using your data.

I would like to learn how to use LIDAR and/or NVI data to determine ground cover in regards to my advisors’ categories (attached). I would also like to explore methods for comparing the amount of change from 1995 to 2019 at my sites that is suitable to my data and my purposes.
Expected outcome: what do you want to produce — maps? statistical relationships? other?
I expect to have a spreadsheet with quantified variable change as well as species richness measurements in order to reevaluate variable importance as well as the statistical relationship between landscape level variable differences and species richness differences. As an intermediate step, I will also produce a map(s) portraying the change at my sites from 1995 to 2019.

Significance. How is your spatial problem important to science? to resource managers?

The quality of wintering habitat is correlated with overall survivability and reproductive success for songbirds the following year (Norris et al. 2004). It is important to know how these habitats have changed as well as the consequences of those changes in regards to songbird community metrics. Therefore, it is extremely important for both science and resource managers. If we want to assure that our environment remains healthy and balanced with stable songbird communities it is this work and work like it is necessary. It is also important to those who wish to manage songbird populations so they know where to allocate resources when it comes to habitat variables to preserve.

Your level of preparation: how much experience do you have with (a) Arc-Info, (b) Modelbuilder and/or GIS programming in Python, (c) R, (d) image processing, (e) other relevant software

a. I am in between proficient and having a working knowledge of the basics of Arc-Info from taking various courses and teaching the basics of Arc-Pro.b. I have a working knowledge with modelbuilder and GIS programming in Python because I took courses on both subjects and now help teach a programming for ArcGIS class.
c. I have a working knowledge of R because I took an R course related to species distributions and I have used R in two statistics courses.
d. I am a novice in image processing but did take a digital terrain modeling course last term.
e. I am a novice in but would like to learn about software that helps me analyze NVI and LIDAR data


Adamus P,. 2002. Multiscale Relationships of Wintering Birds with Riparian and Wetland Habitat in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Oregon State University.

Norris R., Marra P., Kyser K., Sherrt W., & Ratcliffe L. 2004. Tropical Winter Habitat Limits Reproductive Success on the Temperate Breeding Grounds in a Migratory Bird. Biological Sciences (271).

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One thought on “How winter wetland habitat change over time affects songbird communities

  1. jonesju

    Marissa, this is a good start. Some things that need work. 1) Research question. Try rephrasing as “how is the spatial pattern of songbird richness (or change in richness) (A) related to the spatial pattern of wetland communities (or change in those communities) (B) via mechanism (more plant richness expected to be related to more songbird richness?)?” What other spatial factors might influence this, including the size of the wetland, the surrounding land use, the distance of each wetland to other wetlands, etc.? The landscape variables used by Adamus (2002) are all spatial variables relating to the proportions of certain types of vegetation within varying distances from the wetland. How can you include these in your research question? And are you interested only in richness? What about community composition? 3) Hypotheses. Can you exland your hypotheses to consider aspects of spatial pattern, such as the size of patches of open forest, and/or the distance of each site to (non-wetland areas of) open forest canopy? 4) For Ex 1, try to conduct a vegetation classification exercise to identify the vegetation types surrounding your wetland study sites, and quantify the variables as used by Adamus (2002). But at the same time, for Ex 1., try some spatial pattern analyses such as spatial autocorrelation or hotspot analysis using the bird richness data. Then for Ex 2 try using cross-correlation and/or GWR to relate (a) bird richness to surronding habitat in 1995, 2019, (b) change in richness to change in surrounding habitat.

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