Hucks, K.D. and Leberg, P.L., 0000. Evaluation of maximum entropy models for assessing coastal bird distributions under restoration scenarios.

Coastal systems are facing many challenges, including climate change, sea-level rise, storm surge, and erosion, all of which contribute to land loss. In Louisiana, this has led to the development of a coastal master plan supported by habitat suitability index (HSI) models to predict wildlife responses under various management scenarios. However, HSI models were not originally intended for this purpose, and their functionality at large spatial scales is unclear. The goal was to use maximum entropy modeling to predict how various bird distributions might change with coastal restoration and management and to compare those results to HSI model predictions. Using field surveys and sources of bird locations, as well as environmental projections from the Comprehensive Master Plan habitat and hydrology models, the authors predicted the probability of occurrence for each target species for current conditions and projected the distributions into the future at 25 and 50 years using sea-level rise and coastal change scenarios. Predictive models for each species under current conditions show good agreement with field observations. Future models generally show reductions in areas of potentially high habitat use, with a few notable exceptions in the Brown Pelican habitat. Both MaxEnt and HSI modeling approaches had advantages and disadvantages; neither was clearly superior for predicting wildlife habitat. Increasing the resolution and quality of environmental data used in coastal monitoring efforts, as well as additional field validation of model predictions, will improve estimates of suitable habitat, habitat use, and restoration outcomes for wildlife.

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