A RANDOM-FOREST CLASSIFICATION OF TALUS IN NORTHWEST NEVADA USING NATIONAL AGRICULTURE IMAGERY PROGRAM AERIAL IMAGERY TO SUPPORT MANAGEMENT OF THE AMERICAN PIKA
|Thomas E Dilts; University of Nevada Reno; firstname.lastname@example.org; K. Jane Van Gunst, Jessica Castillo Varadaro|
The American pika is a small mammal inhabiting talus patches in the deserts of northwest Nevada and has frequently been described as a talus-obligate species. We used freely-available aerial photography to create the first known talus distribution map for northwest Nevada, USA. Using known pika locations in which scat or hay piles were present we modeled the distribution of occupied versus unoccupied talus to determine whether pika occurrence was related to 1) patch size and shape, 2) climatic characteristics, or 3) the availability of talus within neighboring areas. Our findings suggest that pika occurrence was related to both patch size/shape and climate. Our mapping methodology is likely to be applicable to other geographic areas and has the potential to help identify new sites, constrain estimates of habitat area, and refine species distribution models for pika and other talus-obligate species.