metacommunity, connectivity, geographically isolated wetlands, birds, hydroperiod, species-area relationship, trophic levels, landscape ecology
Metacommunity connectivity, i.e., multi-species dispersal events, is vital to metapopulation persistence in patchy landscapes. Assessments of metacommunity connectivity are not trivial. However, a relationship between trophic rank and the species-area relationship has been found in previous studies, allowing for the use of the predator species-area relationship to act as a surrogate measure of actual metacommunity connectivity of prey species in some systems. For this study, avian species were selected as they are generalist top predators within the study system. Predator species richness within geographically isolated freshwater marshes is influenced by a number of factors. I explore the relative roles of patch area, seasonality, hydroperiod, isolation, and vegetation structure on habitat use in the isolated freshwater marshes embedded within the dry prairie ecosystem of Central Florida. Predator species richness was surveyed in 50 sites for three seasons: fall 2005, winter 2005/06, and spring 2006 and the observed avian assemblage measures were subdivided into foraging guilds for analysis. Wading guild (e.g., egrets, herons, bitterns) species richness was correlated with hydroperiod and vegetation structural variables while perching guild (e.g., blackbirds, sparrows, meadowlarks) species richness was correlated with isolation, hydroperiod, and area annually. Overall predator and all guild species richness measures were also correlated with patch area for all seasons. These results suggest that while a complex mixture of patch area, hydroperiod and isolation influence habitat utilization that varies by season and at the community, guild and individual species level, the underlying predictors that define habitat use in wetlands annually includes hydroperiod, and is not exclusively patch area. Additionally, seasonal differences in predator species richness were found to be significant in some cases indicating that future avian population studies may benefit by sampling outside of the normally studied spring breeding season. Results of this study support the use of predator species richness as a suitable assay of metacommunity connectivity of prey species. Applications and implications of this approach toward future conservation efforts are discussed.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Rodenbeck, Brian, "Spatiotemporal Variation Of Avian Populations Within Geographically Isolated Freshwater Marshes" (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3322.