Landscape spatial structure for predicting suitable habitat: The case of Dalea villosa in Saskatchewan


Prediction of potentially suitable habitat is important for the recovery of species protected by federal laws. Therefore, the objective of this research was to study the relationship between habitat configuration and hairy prairie-clover occurrence in order to predict suitable and unsuitable bare sand habitat across the study site. Bare sand patches were extracted from a land cover classification of the study site and several patch scaled metrics were calculated to characterize habitat spatial structure. Binary logistic regression was used to determine which metrics were significantly correlated with hairy prairie-clover occurrences. The logistic regression equation was subsequently used to predict suitable and unsuitable bare sand habitat for hairy prairie-clover based on the probability of occupancy. Results showed that about 29% of the variation in bare sand patch occupancy could be explained by the size, shape, and degree of isolation of a sand patch as well as the amount of vegetation on a sand patch in the early growing season. Based on these variables, 18.8% of bare sand patches in the study site were predicted to be unsuitable hairy prairie-clover habitat, 45.7% were predicted to be marginally unsuitable, 32.7% were predicted to be suitable, and 2.8% were predicted to be marginally suitable.

Share and Cite:

Lowe, S. , Guo, X. and Henderson, D. (2012) Landscape spatial structure for predicting suitable habitat: The case of Dalea villosa in Saskatchewan. Open Journal of Ecology, 2, 60-73. doi: 10.4236/oje.2012.22008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Elith, J., Graham, C., Anderson, R., Dudik, M., Ferrier, S., Guisan, A., Hijmans, R., Huettmann, F., Leathwick, J., Lehmann, A., Li, J., Lohmann, L., Loiselle, B., Manion, G., Moritz, C., Nakamura, M., Nakazawa, Y., Overton, J., Peterson, A., Phillips, S., Richardson, K., Scachetti Pereira, R., Schapire, R., Soberon, J., Williams, S., Wisz, M. and Zimmermann, N. (2006) Novel methods improve prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence data. Ecography, 29, 129-151. doi:10.1111/j.2006.0906-7590.04596
[2] Parolo, G., Rossi, G. and Ferrarini, A. (2008) Toward improved species niche modelling: Arnica Montana in the Alps as a case study. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1410-1418. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01516.x
[3] Hirzel, A. and Le Lay, G. (2008) Habitat suitability modelling and niche theory. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1372-1381. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01524.x
[4] Freckleton, R. and Watkinson, A. (2002) Large-scale spatial dynamics of plants: Metapopulations, regional ensembles and patchy populations. Journal of Ecology, 90, 419-434. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2745.2002.00692.x
[5] Williams, J., Seo, C., Thorne, J., Nelson, J., Erwin, S., O’Brien, J. and Schwartz, M. (2009) Using species distribution models to predict new occurrences for rare plants. Diversity and Distributions, 15, 565-576. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2009.00567.x
[6] Rizkalla, C., Moore, J. and Swihart, R. (2009) Modelling patch occupancy: Relative performance of ecologically scaled landscape indices. Landscape Ecology, 24, 77-88. doi:10.1007/s10980-008-9281-0
[7] Kindlmann, P. and Burel, F. (2008) Connectivity measures: A review. Landscape Ecology, 23, 879-890.
[8] Kolb, A. and Diekmann, M. (2005) Effects of life-history traits on responses of plant species to forest fragmentation. Conservation Biology, 19, 929-938. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00065.x
[9] Leach, M. and Givnish, T. (1996) Ecological determinants of species loss in remnant prairies. Science, 273, 1555-1558. doi:10.1126/science.273.5281.1555
[10] Fahrig, L. and Merriam, G. (1994) Conservation of fragmented populations. Conservation Biology, 8, 50-59. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1994.08010050.x
[11] Gustafson, E. (1998) Quantifying landscape spatial pattern: What is the state of the art? Ecosystems, 1, 143-156. doi:10.1007/s100219900011
[12] Smith, B. (1998) COSEWIC status report on the hairy prairie-clover in Canada. Environment Canada, Ottawa.
[13] Wolfe, S., Huntley, D. and Ollerhead, J. (1995) Recent and late Holocene sand dune activity in southwestern Sas- katchewan. Geological Survey of Canada, Current Research 1995-B, 131-140.
[14] Vance, R. and Wolfe, S. (1996) Geological indicators of water resources in semi-arid environments: Southwestern interior of Canada. In: Berger, A.R. and Iams, W.J., Eds., Geoindicators: Assessing Rapid Environmental Changes in Earth Systems, A.A. Balkema, Lisse, 251-263.
[15] Hugenholtz, C. and Wolfe, S. (2005) Recent stabilization of active sand dunes on the Canadian prairies and relation to recent climate variations. Geomorphology, 68, 131-147. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2004.04.009
[16] Thorpe, J. (2007) Saskatchewan rangeland ecosystems, publication 1: Ecoregions and ecosites. Saskatchewan prairie conservation action plan. Saskatchewan Research Council Pub., No.11881-1E07.
[17] Hulett, G., Coupland, R. and Dix, R. (1966) The vegetation of dune sand areas within the grassland region of Sas- katchewan. Canadian Journal of Botany, 44, 1307- 1331. doi:10.1139/b66-147
[18] Godwin, B. and Thorpe, J. (2007) Targeted surveys for plant species at risk in Elbow, Dundurn and Rudy-Rosedale AAFC-PFRA Pastures, 2006. Agriculture and agri- food Canada-prairie farm rehabilitation administration. Saskatchewan Research Council Pub., No. 11997-1E07.
[19] Environment Canada (2008) National climate data and information archive: Canadian climate normals, 1971-2000.
[20] Canadian Wildlife Service (2004) Species at risk public registery: Canadian distribution of the hairy prairie-clover.
[21] Hirzel, A. and Guisan, A. (2002) Which is the optimal sampling strategy for habitat suitability modelling. Ecological Modelling, 157, 331-341. doi:10.1016/S0304-3800(02)00203-X
[22] McGarigal, K. and Marks, B. (1995) FRAGSTATS: Spatial pattern analysis program for quantifying landscape structure. General Technical Reports, Portland. Or: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific North- west Research Station, 122 p.
[23] Jensen, J. (2005) Introductory digital image processing. 3rd Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc., Upper Saddle River.
[24] Schleuning, M. and Matthies, D. (2008) Habitat change and plant demography: Assessing the extinction risk of a formerly common grassland perennial. Conservation Biology, 23, 174-183. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.01054.x
[25] Zar, J. (1999) Biostatistical analysis. 4th Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc., Upper Saddle River.
[26] Wolken, P., Sieg, C. and Williams, S. (2001) Quantifying suitable habitat of the threatened western prairie fringed orchid. Journal of Range Management, 54, 611-616. doi:10.2307/4003592
[27] Hirzel, A., Le Lay, G., Helfer, V., Randin, C. and Guisan, A. (2006) Evaluating the ability of habitat suitability models to predict species presences. Ecological Modelling, 199, 142-152. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.05.017
[28] Lord, J. and Norton, D. (1990) Scale and the spatial concept of fragmentation. Conservation Biology, 4, 197-202. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.1990.tb00109.x
[29] Helm, A., Hanski, I. and Partel, M. (2006) Slow response of plant species richness to habitat loss and fragmentation. Ecology Letters, 9, 72-77.
[30] Heinz, S., Wissel, C. and Frank, K. (2006) The viability of metapopulations: Individual dispersal behaviour matters. Landscape Ecology, 21, 77-89. doi:10.1007/s10980-005-0148-3
[31] Rieucau, G., Vickery, W., Doucet, G. and Laquerre, B. (2007) An innovative use of white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) foraging behaviour in impact studies. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 85, 839-846. doi:10.1139/Z07-062
[32] Volk, M., Kaufman, D. and Kaufman, G. (2007) Diurnal activity and habitat associations of white tailed deer in tallgrass prairie of eastern Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 110, 145-154. doi:10.1660/0022-8443(2007)110[145:DAAHAO]2.0.CO;2
[33] Landis, B. and Koch, G. (1977) The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics, 33, 159-174. doi:10.2307/2529310
[34] Cousins, S., Ohlson, H. and Eriksson, O. (2007) Effects of historical and present fragmentation on plant species diversity in semi-natural grasslands in Swedish rural landscapes. Landscape Ecology, 22, 723-730. doi:10.1007/s10980-006-9067-1
[35] Eriksson, O. (1996) Regional dynamics of plants: A review of evidence for remnant, source sink and metapopulations. Oikos, 77, 248-258. doi:10.2307/3546063

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.