Bird‐habitat models are frequently used as predictive modeling tools—for example, to predict how a species will respond to habitat modifications. We investigated the generality of the predictions from this type of model. Multivariate models were developed for Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Raven (Corvus corax), and Buzzard (Buteo buteo) living in northwest Scotland. Data were obtained for all habitat and nest locations within an area of 2349 km2. This assemblage of species is relatively static with respect to both occupancy and spatial positioning. The area was split into five geographic subregions: two on the mainland and three on the adjacent Island of Mull, which has one of United Kingdom’s richest raptor fauna assemblages. Because data were collected for all nest locations and habitats, it was possible to build models that did not incorporate sampling error. A range of predictive models was developed using discriminant analysis and logistic regression. The models differed with respect to the geographical origin of the data used for model development. The predictive success of these models was then assessed by applying them to validation data. The models showed a wide range of predictive success, ranging from only 6% of nest sites correctly predicted to 100% correctly predicted. Model validation techniques were used to ensure that the models’ predictions were not statistical artefacts. The variability in prediction success seemed to result from methodological and ecological processes, including the data recording scheme and interregional differences in nesting habitat. The results from this study suggest that conservation biologists must be very careful about making predictions from such studies because we may be working with systems that are inherently unpredictable.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1995
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