Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Utah
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Utah Project

Riparian Bird Habitat Models

June 2006 - December 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Approximately 75% of Utah’s bird species use riparian habitats at some time during their life cycles and at least 80% of riparian habitat in Utah has been lost or altered since settlement; riparian habitat now comprises less than 1% of Utah’s land cover. In 1992, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) began a long-term statewide neotropical migratory bird (NTMB) monitoring program using a stratified random sampling design, with sites distributed statewide to cover riparian habitat as completely as possible. The purpose of the program is to monitor bird species diversity, community composition, relative abundance, and density in riparian habitats throughout the state. When population trends in Utah were investigated, the pattern of annual variation for riparian-dependent species groupings, physiographic area, relative abundance, and other parameters suggested that a landscape-wide effect (e.g., habitat, climate) may be driving the observed population fluctuations. To better understand these larger-scale effects, I propose 1) to determine habitat characteristics of all bird monitoring sites throughout the state by continued data collection and analysis, 2) provide statewide density estimates for selected bird species, 3) model these bird-riparian habitat associations, and 4) develop guidelines for conservation and restoration of Utah’s riparian areas. Avian density estimation will be achieved using Program DISTANCE. Habitat and bird-habitat association analysis pathways are still to be determined. The bird-habitat association model results will become the basis for development of guidelines for riparian restoration and conservation in Utah.