Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Erica Stuber


Erica Stuber


Simona Picardi


Frank Howe


Humans have been changing landscape features that are important to birds for many years. This is a problem because 3 billion birds have been lost since 1970 and this affects our lives every day, since birds help us by pollinating our crops and controlling pests, among other services. It is critical that we understand which birds are most susceptible to a changing landscape so that we can slow their decline. Understanding birds’ resilience to these habitat changes can help wildlife managers make better informed decisions for birds living in a changing world. We looked at which bird species are present in areas with different levels of habitat change throughout the state of Utah, and created two metrics that help describe how resilient bird species are to habitat change. We also investigated four hypotheses described by birds’ physical characteristics and preferences to explain the reasons why bird species are resilient. We found three patterns of bird responses to habitat change: positive, negative, and no response. Managers could integrate these relationships with their goals to choose the best habitat modification projects for their species and/or communities of interest. Within the four hypotheses explaining bird resilience, not all predictions about resilience were supported, and support was often driven by one trait (e.g. preference or physical characteristic). Understanding the traits that indicate birds’ resilience to habitat change can help develop new approaches to wildlife and habitat management. This could be done through predicting areas in which habitat change will have disproportionate negative impacts on the largest number of birds, for example.



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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