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Picking patches: What is the utility of habitat fragmentation in determining habitat use by local populations of the Marbled Murrelet, Brachyramphus marmoratus?

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We investigated the utility of measures of landscape and matrix composition and configuration in determining local breeding abundance of marbled murrelets, as indexed by radar counts of breeding murrelets taken during breeding season, in three areas of coastal British Columbia: Southwest Vancouver Island, the South and Central mainland coast. Using an information theoretic approach, we tested whether models including landscape composition and configuration could better predict local murrelet abundance than models utilizing habitat area alone, and whether model selection varied between regions. Models including measures of landscape composition and configuration do better predict local murrelet abundance than those based on habitat area alone, and associations between landscape components and murrelet abundance differ among regions. Algorithms currently used to identify murrelet habitat as suitable or unsuitable for protection do not consider landscape context. We recommend refining these algorithms to include measures of landscape composition and configuration.
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