Modelling waterfowl abundance and distribution to inform conservation planning in Canada

Authors: Barker, Nicole
Advisor: Cumming, Steven G.Darveau, Marcel
Abstract: In this thesis, I investigated the conservation of waterfowl in the Canadian boreal region as a case study. The overall goals of this thesis were to: 1) generate information on waterfowl abundance and distribution that can be used for conservation planning and other applications, and then; 2) evaluate how various modelling or conservation planning methods will influence conservation planning decisions. In Chapter 1, I created the foundational species abundance models (SAMs) upon which the remainder of the thesis was built. Boosted Regression Tree models performed well, statistically, and I suggested that they can be used for waterfowl conservation planning in Canada. In Chapter 2, I extended these SAMs to species groups and assessed the difference between aggregating waterfowl abundance before or after model-building. Results were similar between the modelling strategies, suggesting that the strategy chosen will have little impact on conservation planning decisions. In Chapter 3, I used species abundance maps to re-evaluate the assumptions regarding large-scale habitat selection by waterfowl within North America. Eleven species selected the prairie-parkland while five selected the boreal. Those selecting the boreal were not always the most abundant species in the region. In Chapter 4, I compared two methods of building protected area networks in the boreal biome, in terms of their performance for protecting waterfowl and overall biodiversity. The biodiversity-oriented approach built more ecologically representative networks while protecting waterfowl proportionately to network area. The waterfowl-oriented approach protected more waterfowl but poorly represented the biodiversity of the region. As a whole, my thesis sheds light on appropriate methods to follow when building and using species abundance models for conservation planning.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2015
Open Access Date: 23 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/26105
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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