Using stochastic gradient boosting to infer stopover habitat selection and distribution of Hooded Cranes Grus monacha during spring migration in Lindian, Northeast China

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 26;9(2):e89913. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089913. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

The Hooded Crane (Grus monacha) is a globally vulnerable species, and habitat loss is the primary cause of its decline. To date, little is known regarding the specific habitat needs, and stopover habitat selection in particular, of the Hooded Crane. In this study we used stochastic gradient boosting (TreeNet) to develop three specific habitat selection models for roosting, daytime resting, and feeding site selection. In addition, we used a geographic information system (GIS) combined with TreeNet to develop a species distribution model. We also generated a digital map of the relative occurrence index (ROI) of this species at daytime resting sites in the study area. Our study indicated that the water depth, distance to village, coverage of deciduous leaves, open water area, and density of plants were the major predictors of roosting site selection. For daytime resting site selection, the distance to wetland, distance to farmland, and distance to road were the primary predictors. For feeding site selection, the distance to road, quantity of food, plant coverage, distance to village, plant density, distance to wetland, and distance to river were contributing factors, and the distance to road and quantity of food were the most important predictors. The predictive map showed that there were two consistent multi-year daytime resting sites in our study area. Our field work in 2013 using systematic ground-truthing confirmed that this prediction was accurate. Based on this study, we suggest that Lindian plays an important role for migratory birds and that cultivation practices should be adjusted locally. Furthermore, public education programs to promote the concept of the harmonious coexistence of humans and cranes can help successfully protect this species in the long term and eventually lead to its delisting by the IUCN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • China
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Models, Biological*
  • Seasons*
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*
  • Stochastic Processes

Grant support

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project NO. 30770287), Whitley Foundation for Nature (WFN), and State Forestry Administration of China. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.