Exploring the Dotterel Mountains: Improving the understanding of breeding habitat characteristics of an Arctic-breeding specialist bird


226 – 237

1 December 21

Christian Hoefs, Tim van der Meer, Peter Antkowiak, Jonas Hagge, Martin Green, Jannis Gottwald


Christian Hoefs
Department of Geography, Philipps-University Marburg, Deutschhausstraße 12, 35037 Marburg, Germany
Bioplan Marburg: Ecological Consultancy for Environmental Planning, Deutschhausstraße 36, 35037 Marburg, Germany


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Arctic-breeding birds are of particular conservation concern since their habitats are subject to severe changes and shifts upwards in both altitude and latitude due to global warming. Detailed knowledge on habitat characteristics of those species is required to understand how specialized Arctic-breeding species deal with changing habitat conditions. Therefore, sufficient data and methods to assess habitat suitability on large spatial scales in a time- and cost-efficient way are needed. The Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus is a specialist high altitude and Arctic-breeding wader and can serve as an ideal model species for addressing habitat requirements of Arctic-breeding birds and consequences for conservation. We combined field surveys with remote sensing data to develop a distribution model for the breeding habitat of the Eurasian Dotterel in the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve in northern Sweden. The remote sensing data comprised 211 spectral, structural and topographic indices derived from freely available satellite images and digital elevation models. For species distribution modeling we used MaxEnt with an advanced variable and parameter selection method for model training. The trained model produced excellent results (AUC = 0.99) with seven resulting predictor variables reflecting the habitat requirements of the Dotterel: sparsely vegetated mountain tops with dry ground which are very open. This study further highlights the potential of combining survey data with freely available remote sensing data for detailed area-wide population predictions and the monitoring of habitat change as a tool in species conservation.