European grouse populations have their main habitats at the fringe of forest and grasslands in Scandinavia and the Alps. Today, large parts of the original habitat is affected through land-use change and anthropogenic disturbance. Protected areas thus are of great importance in the preservation of viable grouse populations.
In the Eastern Alps, the transboundary Natura 2000 bird sanctuary "Karwendel" with a total area of 900km2 plays a key role in the preservation of large habitats with the required structural diversity. Currently, a EU project investigates the grouse populations in the Karwendel protected area. The aim of the project is to model the fine-scaled habitat suitability of the two grouse species black grouse and capercaillie. Existing models end at the respective national border and thus hinder an evaluation of the habitats in a larger context.
This thesis will model the suitability of the habitats in the transboundary Natura 2000 area "Karwendel" for black grouse and capercaillie. The methodological approach is species distribution modelling (SDM), which is a family of statistical and machine learning methods that map ecological niche affordances of a species to geographic space. The thesis project involves 1) identification of adequate parameters that describe habitat suitability for each of the two species, 2) data harmonisation to integrate German and Austrian data, and 3) identification of an adequate algorithm to model habitat suitability. The Karwendel habitat suitability map will be the basis for the implementation of a biodiversity monitoring scheme and forest management measures to improve the overall habitat quality.
References, suggested reading
- Elith, Jane, and John R. Leathwick. "Species distribution models: ecological explanation and prediction across space and time." Annual review of ecology, evolution, and systematics 40 (2009): 677-697.
- Schweiger, Anna-Katharina, Ursula Nopp-Mayr, and Margit Zohmann. "Small-scale habitat use of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix L.) and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta helvetica Thienemann) in the Austrian Alps." European Journal of Wildlife Research 58.1 (2012): 35-45.
- Zohmann, Margit, et al. "Modelling habitat use of Tetrao urogallus L. in Austria for conservation issues." Journal for nature conservation 22.3 (2014): 223-234.
EU-Interreg Project in cooperation with TUM, LWF, Land Tirol, Land Salzburg and ANL: https://www.anl.bayern.de/projekte/basch_projekt/index.htm
Interest in wildlife management and nature conservation.