Trends in breeding distributions based on the Florida's Breeding Bird Atlas Project
Document Type: Book Chapter
Author(s): James A. Cox
Editor(s): G. E. Woolfenden; W. B. Robertson; James A. Cox
Publication Year: 2006

Cataloging Information

  • Aimophila aestivalis
  • birds
  • cavity nesting birds
  • coastal plain
  • conservation
  • cover
  • cover type
  • distribution
  • flatwoods
  • Florida
  • game birds
  • GIS
  • habitat types
  • habits and behavior
  • nongame birds
  • Parus carolinensis
  • Picoides borealis
  • population density
  • private lands
  • sampling
  • soils
  • species diversity (animals)
  • succession
  • temperature
  • tropical regions
  • Turkey
  • wetlands
  • wild turkey
  • wildlife habitat management
  • wildlife management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 46192
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21871
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: QL 684.F6 W66 2006
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


I used data from the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas project to compare bird distributions to the distributions of numerous climatic, cultural, and ecological features. I performed the analyses using a geographic information system and the large body of geographic data now available in digital format. I developed composite maps by overlaying maps of breeding birds with similar life-history traits and/or status (e.g., cavity-nesting species, state-listed species, and wetland-dependent species) and compared these to features such as the acreage of freshwater marsh, average January temperatures, extent of road development, and other features. I also compared maps for some species directly to climate and ecological features to determine whether atlas data could be used to assess habitat relationships.Composite maps identified areas with high species richness and helped to discern trends in species richness that corresponded to changes in climate, habitats, and soils. As such, atlas data are helpful as a conservation planning tool and for monitoring populations of some species. Species richness among atlas blocks was positively correlated with the number of habitat types found in atlas blocks, and a composite map depicting the number of rare and declining species associated with atlas blocks might be used to identify priorities for conservation activities on public and private lands. Atlas data also helped to document distributional changes (e.g., absence of Summer Tanager and Wild Turkey in southeast Florida) that may stem from population declines not detected in other broad-scale surveys.Conversely, correlations between the breeding distributions of individual species and variables such as forest cover, human populations, public lands, and road networks generally were weak and often lacked biological underpinnings. A few suggestive correlations emerged, but an insuperable problem with atlas data is that data are collected at a coarse scale compared to distribution of breeding habitats selected by birds. Problems associated with the scale of atlas data may obscure important relationships. The Florida Breeding Bird Atlas also did not include estimates of population size for the species observed nor the survey effort provided by volunteers. These factors weakened attempts to assess habitat associations.Future atlas projects should include 'pre-survey' information detailing the species an observer might expect to find in certain atlas blocks and better methods for estimating bitd abundances and documenting sampling effort. The prevalence of global positioning equipment also will make it possible to pinpoint breeding locations more precisely for selected species, and this information could improve attempts to associate ecological features with the breeding distributions recorded through atlas work.

Cox, J. A. 2006. Trends in breeding distributions based on the Florida's Breeding Bird Atlas Project, in GE Woolfenden, WB Robertson, and JA Cox eds., The breeding birds of Florida. Gainesville, FL, Florida Ornithological Society, Special publication no. 7, p. 71-140.