Habitat Suitability Modelling for Passage Activity: A Cautionary Tale Using Mink

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  • While many studies have evaluated wildlife passage effectiveness, few have explored how accurately passage activity can be modelled. I created a habitat suitability index (HSI) model for American mink (Neovison vison) using Geographic Information Systems with 17 wildlife passages located in Quebec as validation for the model. Two questions were addressed: (1) How well can HSI modelling for mink determine passage activity? and (2) how sensitive are the models to different parameterizations? To test this, I assessed how well the HSI scores generated aligned with passage activity. A generalized linear model was used to test how well the model explained the variability in passage activity (counts). Uncertainty analysis revealed that the HSI model was sensitive to extreme changes in factor weights and scale. The predictive power of all models greatly improved after including aspects related to passage construction, with the pseudo-­‐R2 increasing between 64 – 73 %. These findings suggest that these HSI models are a poor predicator of passage use for mink, while wildlife passage characteristics are highly predictive. Transportation agencies would benefit from the ability to make informed planning decisions, however greater care is required to determine passage suitability. The proper implementation of these tools requires knowledge of not only habitat preferences, but also how movement is influenced by the wildlife passages themselves.

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    Conference/Workshop Presentation
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International