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Creators/Authors contains: "Zipkin, Elise F."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 18, 2023
  5. Declines in the abundance and diversity of insects pose a substantial threat to terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. Yet, identifying the causes of these declines has proved difficult, even for well-studied species like monarch butterflies, whose eastern North American population has decreased markedly over the last three decades. Three hypotheses have been proposed to explain the changes observed in the eastern monarch population: loss of milkweed host plants from increased herbicide use, mortality during autumn migration and/or early-winter resettlement and changes in breeding-season climate. Here, we use a hierarchical modelling approach, combining data from >18,000 systematic surveys to evaluate support for each of these hypotheses over a 25-yr period. Between 2004 and 2018, breeding-season weather was nearly seven times more important than other factors in explaining variation in summer population size, which was positively associated with the size of the subsequent overwintering population. Although data limitations prevent definitive evaluation of the factors governing population size between 1994 and 2003 (the period of the steepest monarch decline coinciding with a widespread increase in herbicide use), breeding-season weather was similarly identified as an important driver of monarch population size. If observed changes in spring and summer climate continue, portions of the current breeding rangemore »may become inhospitable for monarchs. Our results highlight the increasingly important contribution of a changing climate to insect declines.« less
  6. Integrated models combine multiple data types within a unified analysis to estimate species abundance and covariate effects. By sharing biological parameters, integrated models improve the accuracy and precision of estimates compared to separate analyses of individual data sets. We developed an integrated point process model to combine presence-only and distance sampling data for estimation of spatially explicit abundance patterns. Simulations across a range of parameter values demonstrate that our model can recover estimates of biological covariates, but parameter accuracy and precision varied with the quantity of each data type. We applied our model to a case study of black-backed jackals in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, to examine effects of spatially varying covariates on jackal abundance patterns. The model revealed that jackals were positively affected by anthropogenic disturbance on the landscape, with highest abundance estimated along the Reserve border near human activity. We found minimal effects of landscape cover, lion density, and distance to water source, suggesting that human use of the Reserve may be the biggest driver of jackal abundance patterns. Our integrated model expands the scope of ecological inference by taking advantage of widely available presence-only data, while simultaneously leveraging richer, but typically limited, distance sampling data.