We developed a habitat model to predict cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea) habitat availability in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee. We used 7 remotely sensed vegetation and topographic landform explanatory variables and known locations of territorial male cerulean warblers mapped in 2003 as the response variable to develop a Mahalanobis distance statistic model of potential habitat. We evaluated the accuracy of the model based on field surveys for ceruleans during the 2004 breeding season. The model performed well with an 80% correct classification of cerulean presence based on the validation data, although prediction of absence was only 54% correct. We extrapolated from potential habitat to cerulean abundance based on density estimates from territory mapping on 8 20-ha plots in 2005. Over the 200,000-ha study area, we estimated there were 80,584 ha of potential habitat, capable of supporting about 36,500 breeding pairs. We applied the model to the 21,609-ha state-owned Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area to evaluate the potential effects of coal surface mining as one example of a potential conflict between land use and cerulean warbler conservation. Our models suggest coal surface mining could remove 2,954 ha of cerulean habitat on Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area and could displace 2,540 breeding pairs (23% of the Royal Blue population). A comprehensive conservation strategy is needed to address potential and realized habitat loss and degradation on the breeding grounds, during migration, and on the wintering grounds.
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Vol. 70 • No. 6