Extension of landscape-based population viability models to ecoregional scales for conservation planning

Thomas W. Bonnot, Frank R. Thompson, Joshua J. Millspaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Landscape-based population models are potentially valuable tools in facilitating conservation planning and actions at large scales. However, such models have rarely been applied at ecoregional scales. We extended landscape-based population models to ecoregional scales for three species of concern in the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region and compared model projections against long-term trend data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey. We used a spatially-explicit demographic model and structured the regional population into ecological subsections on the basis of habitat, landscape patterns, and demographic rates to assess species viability. Our model projections were within 2% of the Breeding Bird Survey trends over the last 40. years for each species. Wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) populations remained relatively stable over the simulation and worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) abundance increased throughout most of the time period until reaching carrying capacity. In contrast, the prairie warbler (Dendroica discolor) population steadily declined by 0.59% annually. The combination of habitat and demographic modeling allowed us to create models that address processes driving these populations at all scales, which is critical to understanding how regional populations respond to landscape processes such as habitat loss and fragmentation. Therefore, because it is spatially explicit and directly addresses population growth and viability, this approach provides a valuable foundation to planning conservation strategies, offering the ability to identify the most salient risks to viability and explore ways to address them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2041-2053
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


Funding was provided by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Missouri. We thank D.T. Jones-Farrand and W. Dijak for analytical support and advice and J.A. Fitzgerald and the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture for support and interest. We thank 2 anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

FundersFunder number
Southeast Missouri State University
Northern Research Station


    • Central hardwoods
    • Demographic
    • HSI
    • Habitat
    • Landscape
    • Prairie warbler
    • Viability modeling
    • Wood thrush
    • Worm-eating warbler


    Dive into the research topics of 'Extension of landscape-based population viability models to ecoregional scales for conservation planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this