A verified habitat suitability index for the Louisiana Waterthrush

Diann J. Prosser, Robert P. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We developed and tested a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for the Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla; LOWA). The model was created based on existing literature and verified using presence data within central Pennsylvania. Our LOWA HSI, based on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) format, consists of eight variables including cover, food, and nesting factors. Model variables include measures of canopy cover; shrub cover and height; ratio of deciduous to coniferous cover; herbaceous cover and height; stream order and microtopography; stream clarity and substrate, presence of overturned root masses; stream bank slope and cover type; and landscape classification. Three independent data sets were used to test our model. Two data sets (T1 and T2) included sites characterizing a range of habitat conditions; the third set of data (T3) focused on good to optimal LOWA nesting habitat. Median HSI values were significantly higher on sites occupied by LOWA for T1 (0.80 and 0.67, sites with LOWA presence and absence, respectively) and T2 (0.76 and 0.23). HSI scores for T1 and T2 spanned across the 0-1 scale (0.13-1.0, and 0.04-0.89, respectively). HSI values for T3 were not significantly higher in relation to presence or absence of LOWA (median HSI scores 0.93 and 0.88, respectively). Based on the model's performance and field observations, LOWA show a strong preference for unpolluted, headwater streams and their associated wetlands occurring in contiguous forest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-298
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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