NS  Vol.5 No.5 A , May 2013
Habitat protection for sensitive species: Balancing species requirements and human constraints using bioindicators as examples
ABSTRACT
Vertebrates have particular habitat needs as a function of life cycle and reproductive stage. This paper uses four species as examples to illustrate a paradigm of environmental assessment that includes physical, biological, toxicological and human dimensions. Species used include Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), northern pine snake (Pituophis m. melanoleucus), and red knot (Calidris canutus rufa, a sandpiper). The life cycles of these species include reliance on habitats that are aquatic, terrestrial, aerial, or combinations of these. Two species (frog, snake) are sedentary and two (salmon, sandpiper) are long-distance migrants. While some measurement endpoints are similar for all species (reproductive success, longevity, contaminant loads), others vary depending upon life cycle and habitat. Salmon have a restricted breeding habitat requiring coarse sand, moderate current, and high oxygen levels for adequate egg incubation. Leopard frogs require still water of appropriate temperature for development of eggs. Pine snakes require sand compaction sufficient to sustain a nest burrow without collapsing, and full sun penetration to the sand to allow their eggs in underground nests to incubate and hatch. Red knots migrate to high Arctic tundra, but incubate their own eggs, so temperature is less of a constraint, but feedinging habitat is. These habitat differences suggest the measurement endpoints that are essential to assess habitat suitability and to manage habitats to achieve stable and sustainable populations. Habitat use and population stability have implications for human activities for some, but not all species. Salmon are important economically, recreationally, and as part of Native American culture and diet. Red knots are of interest to people mainly because of their long, intercontinental migrations and declining populations. Other measurement endpoints for these four species illustrate the differences and similarities in metrics necessary to assess habitat needs. The implications of these differences are discussed.

Cite this paper
Burger, J. , Gochfeld, M. , Powers, C. , Niles, L. , Zappalorti, R. , Feinberg, J. and Clarke, J. (2013) Habitat protection for sensitive species: Balancing species requirements and human constraints using bioindicators as examples. Natural Science, 5, 50-62. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.55A007.
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