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Ecol Appl. 2007 Jul;17(5):1499-510.

Satellite detection of bird communities in tropical countryside.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5020, USA. jai.ranganathan@stanford.edu

Abstract

The future of biodiversity hinges partly on realizing the potentially high conservation value of human-dominated countryside. The characteristics of the countryside that promote biodiversity preservation remain poorly understood, however, particularly at the fine scales at which individual farmers tend to make land use decisions. To address this problem, we explored the use of a rapid remote sensing method for estimating bird community composition in tropical countryside, using a two-step process. First, we asked how fine-grained variation in land cover affected community composition. Second, we determined whether the observed changes in community composition correlated with three easily accessible remote sensing metrics (wetness, greenness, and brightness), derived from performing a tasseled-cap transformation on a Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus image. As a comparison, we also examined whether the most commonly used remote sensing indicator in ecology, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), correlated with community composition. We worked within an agricultural landscape in southern Costa Rica, where the land comprised a complex and highly heterogeneous mosaic of remnant native vegetation, pasture, coffee cultivation, and other crops. In this region, we selected 12 study sites (each < 60 ha) that encompassed the range of available land cover possibilities in the countryside. Within each site, we surveyed bird communities within all major land cover types, and we conducted detailed field mapping of land cover. We found that the number of forest-affiliated species increased with forest cover and decreased with residential area across sites. Conversely, the number of agriculture-affiliated species using forest increased with land area devoted to agricultural and residential uses. Interestingly, we found that the wetness and brightness metrics predicted the number of forest- and agriculture-affiliated species within a site as well as did detailed field-generated maps of land cover. In contrast, NDVI and the closely correlated greenness metric did not correlate with land cover or with bird communities. Our study shows the strong potential of the tasseled-cap transformation as a tool for assessing the conservation value of countryside for biodiversity.

PMID:
17708224
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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