Development of wildlife habitat quality indicators from common vegetation measurements

TitleDevelopment of wildlife habitat quality indicators from common vegetation measurements
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsToledo D., Herrick JE, Abbott L
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show
Date PublishedFebruary 5, 2005
Conference LocationFort Worth, TX
ARIS Log Number178304
Keywordsquality indicators, vegetation measurements, wildlife habitat
AbstractWildlife management decisions are often constrained by insufficient information about species-specific wildlife habitat quality. Many vegetation monitoring programs include data on vegetation cover and composition, yet these data are not readily interpreted for wildlife habitat quality assessments because they have not been correlated with more traditional wildlife habitat indicators. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of different vegetation measurements to develop wildlife habitat quality indicators that are correlated with indicators generated from a vegetation cover pole method. Line-point intercept, plant height, gap intercept, and visual obstruction measurements were used to estimate the spatial distribution of above-ground vegetation in grassland, shrubland and woodland communities in New Mexico. Results indicate that visual obstruction measurements constituted a more reliable and more efficiently quantified index of vegetation structure than plant height in shrubland and woodlands, but not in the grassland site. Results showed that indicators generated from standard vegetation measurements are correlated with traditional habitat quality indicators generated from the cover pole. However, the form and strength of these relationships vary among plant communities.