Accurate estimates of species' distributions are needed to ensure that conservation-planning efforts are directed at appropriate areas. Since the early 1980s, temperate-breeding populations of Branta canadensis (Canada Goose) have increased, yet reliable estimates of the species' distribution are lacking in many regions. Our objective was to identify the landcover features that best predicted Canada Goose distribution. In April 2015, we surveyed 300 one-km2 plots across North Carolina and observed 449 Canada Geese. We quantified percent coverage of 7 continuous landcover variables at 5 different spatial extents for each of the 300 plots. We fit logistic regression models using presence and absence at the 300 plots as the dependent variable and percent-cover covariates as independent variables. The best model for predicting Canada Goose presence included percent pasture within the 9 km2 surrounding the survey plot and percent open water within the 1-km2 survey plot. The probability of Canada Goose presence increased with increasing percent open water and percent pasture, albeit at different spatial extents, which provided important cover and food resources, respectively. Our approach using remote-sensing data to accurately predict Canada Goose presence across a large spatial extent can be employed to determine distributions for other easily surveyed, widely distributed species.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2