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High-resolution remote-sensing data in amphibian studies: identification of breeding sites and contribution to habitat models

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Remote sensing can provide an alternative to field data sampling in many species-habitat studies. However, its usefulness may depend on the species, habitat studied, spatial resolution and extent. We used a high spatial and spectral remotesensing image to locate and delineate small amphibian breeding sites in a Mediterranean ecosystem (Doñana National Park). We also evaluated its usefulness in detecting habitat heterogeneity (number and evenness of different radiometric zones) within ponds and its relationship to amphibian species richness. Furthermore, Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) were used to evaluate the usefulness of high-resolution remote-sensing data to model amphibian distribution at species level (presence/absence data), both when used alone or as a complement to field data. Amphibian species richness correlated positively with habitat heterogeneity when we discriminated a low number of potential different zones within ponds (four vs nine). For most species, remote-sensing data improved on amphibian distribution models built from field data but were of limited utility when used alone. In consequence, although remote-sensing data could be used for the preliminary identification of ponds supporting high species richness, we recommend initial assessment of its utility for identifying species-specific breeding sites before conducting survey programmes based on it.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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