Influence of Vertical and Horizontal Habitat Structure on Nationwide Patterns of Avian Biodiversity | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2013
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

With limited resources for habitat conservation, the accurate identification of high-value avian habitat is crucial. Habitat structure affects avian biodiversity but is difficult to quantify over broad extents. Our goal was to identify which measures of vertical and horizontal habitat structure are most strongly related to patterns of avian biodiversity across the conterminous United States and to determine whether new measures of vertical structure are complementary to existing, primarily horizontal, measures. For 2,546 North American Breeding Bird Survey routes across the conterminous United States, we calculated canopy height and biomass from the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset (NBCD) as measures of vertical habitat structure and used land-cover composition and configuration metrics from the 2001 National Land Cover Database (NLCD) as measures of horizontal habitat structure. Avian species richness was calculated for each route for all birds and three habitat guilds. Avian species richness was significantly related to measures derived from both the NBCD and NLCD. The combination of horizontal and vertical habitat structure measures was most powerful, yielding high R² values for nationwide models of forest (0.70) and grassland (0.48) bird species richness. New measures of vertical structure proved complementary to measures of horizontal structure. These data allow the efficient quantification of habitat structure over broad scales, thus informing better land management and bird conservation.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Culbert, Patrick D.
Radeloff Volker C.
Flather Curtis H.
Kellndorfer Josef M.
Rittenhouse Chadwick D.
Pidgeon Anna M.


University of California Press is one of the most forward-thinking scholarly publishers in the nation. For more than 100 years, it has championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. At a time of dramatic change for publishing and scholarship, we collaborate with scholars, librarians, authors, and students to stay ahead of today’s knowledge demands and shape the future of publishing.


Data provider

Geographical focus

Related categories

Share this page