Translator Disclaimer
1 August 2009 Habitat Relations of Shrubsteppe Birds: A 20-Year Retrospective
John T. Rotenberry, John A. Wiens
Author Affiliations +

Documenting bird—habitat relationships by statistical modeling has been a cornerstone of avian ecology for decades, but rarely is the predictive capacity of such models tested. To evaluate how well quantitative models of habitat relationships developed during an initial survey period predicted species distributions and/or abundances in a later period, in 1997 we revisited 13 shrubsteppe sites that we had previously surveyed from 1977 through 1983. Using multiple regression (linear and logistic) and classification and regression trees (CART), we developed habitat models for each species based on the “historic” period. R2 values for these models ranged from 0.45 to >0.95. We then predicted bird species distributions and abundances by using the 1997 habitat attributes as inputs for the models derived from the earlier data. These models generally failed to predict 1997 bird distributions and abundances accurately; only 1 of 14 multiple regressions and 2 of 14 CARTs explained a statistically significant amount of variation in the target species. Thus, although the models may capture relationships between a species and environmental variables when aggregated over multiple years, they may not adequately predict the subsequent distribution and abundance of populations over shorter time scales. This result may limit the usefulness of multivariate habitat models in resource management.

© 2009 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website,
John T. Rotenberry and John A. Wiens "Habitat Relations of Shrubsteppe Birds: A 20-Year Retrospective," The Condor 111(3), 401-413, (1 August 2009).
Received: 21 January 2009; Accepted: 1 April 2009; Published: 1 August 2009

bird—habitat relationships
classification and regression trees
logistic regression
multiple regression
predictive models
shrubsteppe birds
Get copyright permission
Back to Top