Date of this Version
Systematics and Biodiversity (2014), 12(2): 149–162
Conservation efforts leading to the recovery of the federally endangered American burying beetle (ABB), Nicrophorus americanus Olivier, have been challenging because of the unknown causes of its decline, difficulty in establishing habitat requirements, and unclear population distribution across the species’ range. Extant populations of this widespread generalist species occur in broadly separated regions of North America with varying habitat characteristics. A habitat suitability model for ABB in the Nebraska Sandhills was developed over the course of 3 years resulting in a final cross-validated spatial model. The succession of models from 2009 to 2011 indicated that most of the predictive variables stayed constant, but biased sampling and extrapolation areas affected classifier values differently. Variables associated with ABB occurrence were loamy sand, wetland and precipitation. Five variables, loam soil, agriculture, woodland, the average maximum temperature, and urban development, were associated with ABB absence. The 2011 cross-validated model produced an AUC value of 0.82 and provided areas designated as highly likely to support ABBs. By limiting the model extent to the Sandhills ecoregion and using threshold-dependent classifiers, the final habitat suitability model could be an important resource for wildlife managers engaged in the recovery of this habitat generalist.
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