Thomas Dilts

Thomas Dilts
University of Nevada, Reno | UNR · Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science

MS

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46
Publications
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716
Citations
Citations since 2016
29 Research Items
598 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120140
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Introduction
Thomas Dilts is a Spatial Analyst/Research Scientist in the Great Basin Landscape Ecology Lab in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada Reno. He applies GIS, remote sensing, and spatial analysis to solve natural resource problems and works on a wide range of species and issues. His research falls into two general themes: animal habitat and landscape connectivity as one theme and landscape dynamics and change as the other.

Publications

Publications (46)
Preprint
Niche modeling for rare and range-restricted species can generate inaccurate predictions leading to an overestimation of a species geographic distribution. We used an iterative ensemble modeling approach and model-stratified field surveys to improve niche model formulation and better understand the ecological drivers of Ivesia webberi distribution....
Preprint
Context: Topographic ruggedness has been examined in thousands of ecological studies and is a popular variable for characterizing habitat selection. Despite widespread adoption, ruggedness metrics are often applied uncritically and require systematic and thorough testing using both artificial landscapes and real-world applications. Objectives In th...
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Environmental stress can induce changes in organismal traits and in resulting intraspecific variation. The nature of such effects will depend on the plasticity of, and on any ecological constraints to, trait expression. Plants can mitigate abiotic stress, like drought, by changing their chemistry, but the ability to induce costly metabolites may be...
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One of the defining features of the Anthropocene is eroding ecosystem services as a function of decreases in biodiversity and overall reductions in the abundance of once-common organisms, including many insects that play innumerable roles in natural communities and agricultural systems that support human society. It is now clear that the preservati...
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Ecosystem management and governance of cross-scale dependent systems require integrating knowledge about ecological connectivity in its multiple forms and scales. Although scientists, managers, and policymakers are increasingly recognizing the importance of connectivity, governmental organizations may not be currently equipped to manage ecosystems...
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ContextEnvironmental changes produce discontinuities in suitable habitat. However, drawing inference into the effects of these changes on contemporary genetic patterns is often difficult. Recent approaches for evaluating landscape resistance facilitate increased understanding of landscape effects on gene flow.Objectives We investigated the effects...
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The ability to detect and map invasive plants to the species level, both at high resolution and over large extents, is essential for their targeted management. Yet development of such remote sensing methodology is challenged by the spectral and structural similarities among many invasive and native plant species. We developed a multi-temporal class...
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Tonle Sap lake-river floodplain ecosystem (TSE) is one of the world’s most productive freshwater systems. Changes in hydrology, climate, population density, and land use influence water quality in this system. We investigated long term water quality dynamics (22 years) in space and time and identified potential changes in nutrient limitation based...
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Establishing reference conditions in rivers is important to understand environmental change and protect ecosystem integrity. Ranked third globally for fish biodiversity, the Mekong River has the world’s largest inland fishery providing livelihoods, food security, and protein to the local population. It is therefore of paramount importance to mainta...
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Local adaptation can occur when spatially separated populations are subjected to contrasting environmental conditions. Historically, understanding the genetic basis of adaptation has been difficult, but increased availability of genome‐wide markers facilitates studies of local adaptation in non‐model organisms of conservation concern. The pygmy rab...
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Warming autumns, fewer butterflies Many recent studies have revealed sweeping declines in insects over the past few decades. Butterflies are no exception. Forister et al. used three different datasets, collected by both experts and community scientists, and found that the number of butterflies has declined over the past 40 years. Although the drive...
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Climate change is causing rapid warming and altered precipitation patterns in mountain watersheds, both of which influence the timing of ice breakup in mountain lakes. To enable predictions of ice breakup in the future, we analyzed a dataset of mountain lake ice breakup dates derived from remote sensing and historical downscaled climate data. We ev...
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Aim Upper and lower treelines are particularly exposed to a changing climate. It has been hypothesized that upper treelines are constrained by growing season temperature, whereas lower tree lines are water limited. We expect different causal mechanisms of upper versus lower tree line formation to generate distinct patterns of spatial heterogeneity....
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The Mekong River is a globally important river system, known for its unique flood pulse hydrology, ecological productivity, and biodiversity. Flooded forests provide critical terrestrial nutrient inputs and habitat to support aquatic species. However, the Mekong River is under threat from anthropogenic stressors, including deforestation from land c...
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Many forests in dry mountain regions are characterized by a lower elevational treeline. Understanding the controls on the position of lower treeline is important for predicting future forest distributional shifts in response to global environmental change. Lower treelines currently at their climate limit are expected to be more sensitive to changin...
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Ungulates inhabiting arid ecosystems are reliant on productive forb and shrub communities during summer months to meet nutritional demands for survival and reproduction. In the western United States, expansion of woodland vegetation into shrub‐dominated communities and the potential loss of habitat are of concern with regard to animal populations r...
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The monarch butterfly is one of the most easily recognized and frequently studied insects in the world, and has recently come into the spotlight of public attention and conservation concern because of declining numbers of individuals associated with both the eastern and western migrations. Historically, the larger eastern migration has received the...
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Aim Abiotic conditions are key components that determine the distribution of species. However, co‐occurring species can respond differently to the same factors, and determining which climate components are most predictive of geographic distributions is important for understanding community response to climate change. Here, we estimate and compare c...
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Spatial and temporal environmental variability can lead to variation in selection pressures across a landscape. Strategies for coping with environmental heterogeneity range from specialized phenotypic responses to a narrow range of conditions to generalist strategies that function under a range of conditions. Here, we ask how mean climate and clima...
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• The phenomenon of cheatgrass die-off is a common and naturally occurring stand failure that can eliminate the presence of this annual grass for a year or more, affecting tens to hundreds of thousands of acres in some years. • We designed a study to determine if the temporary lack of cheatgrass caused by die-offs is a restoration opportunity. We s...
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The exotic annual grass Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) dominates vast acreages of rangeland in the western USA, leading to increased fire frequency and ecosystem degradation that is often irreversible. Episodic regeneration failure (“die-off”) has been observed in cheatgrass monocultures and can have negative ecosystem consequences, but can also prov...
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Conservation planning and biodiversity management require information on landscape connectivity across a range of spatial scales from individual home ranges to large regions. Reduction in landscape connectivity due changes in land use or development is expected to act synergistically with alterations to habitat mosaic configuration arising from cli...
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Predicting changes in species distributions under a changing climate is becoming widespread with the use of species distribution models (SDMs). The resulting predictions of future potential habitat can be cast in light of planned land use changes, such as urban expansion and energy development to identify areas with potential conflict. However, SDM...
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Full-text available
Conservation planning and biodiversity management require information on landscape connectivity across a range of spatial scales from individual home ranges to large regions. Reduction in landscape connectivity due changes in land use or development is expected to act synergistically with alterations to habitat mosaic configuration arising from cli...
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Full-text available
Understanding future tree species migration is challenging due to the unprecedented rate of climate change combined with the presence of human barriers that may limit or impede species movement. Projected changes in climatic conditions outpace migration rates, and more realistic rates of range expansion are needed to make sound environmental polici...
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Content Changing aspen distribution in response to climate change and fire is a major focus of biodiversity conservation, yet little is known about the potential response of aspen to these two driving forces along topoclimatic gradients. Objective This study is set to evaluate how aspen distribution might shift in response to different climate-fire...
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We have three goals. (1) To develop a suite of functionally relevant climate variables for modelling vegetation distribution on arid and semi-arid landscapes of the Great Basin, USA. (2) To compare the predictive power of vegetation distribution models based on mechanistically proximate factors (water deficit variables) and factors that are more me...
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Strategic fire and fuel management planning benefits from detailed understanding of how wildfire occurrences are distributed spatially under current climate, and from predictive models of future wildfire occurrence given climate change scenarios. In this study, we fitted historical wildfire occurrence data from 1986 to 2009 to a suite of spatial po...
Data
Species distribution modeling has been hampered by a reliance upon topographic variables, such as elevation, slope, and aspect, that stand in as proxies for climatic variables. An alternative approach is to integrate high resolution DEMs with moderate-coarse resolution gridded climate data, such as PRISM to calculate plant-relevant variables such a...
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Understanding how climate change may influence forest carbon (C) budgets requires knowledge of forest growth relationships with regional climate, long-term forest succession, and past and future disturbances, such as wildfires and timber harvesting events. We used a landscape-scale model of forest succession, wildfire, and C dynamics (LANDIS-II) to...
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Mohave ground squirrels Xerospermophilus mohavensis Merriam are small grounddwelling rodents that have a highly restricted range in the northwest Mojave Desert, California, USA. Their small natural range is further reduced by habitat loss from agriculture, urban development, military training and recreational activities. Development of wind and sol...
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Much riparian restoration focuses on establishment of gallery forests, with relatively limited effort to restore herbaceous wetlands as key components of riparian landscape mosaics. Multiple reasons for this include inherent cultural or esthetic preferences, greater availability of scientific knowledge to support riparian forest restoration, and ch...
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In arid regions of the world, the conversion of native vegetation to agriculture requires the construction of an irrigation infrastructure that can include networks of ditches, reservoirs, flood control modifications, and supplemental groundwater pumping. The infrastructure required for agricultural development has cumulative and indirect effects,...
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Riparian vegetation is distinct from adjacent upland terrestrial vegetation and its distribution is affected by various environmental controls operating at the longitudinal scale (along the river) or transverse scale (perpendicular to the river). Although several studies have shown how the relative importance of transverse or longitudinal influence...
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Large-scale manipulative experiments are critically important for linking ecological theory with land management at a relevant spatial scale. Statistically powerful inferential approaches such as the before-after-control-impact design involve pairing a small number of treatment sites with control sites of analogous ecological structure and landscap...
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Wildfire is a dynamic ecological process with spatial patterns that reflect multiple influences on fire occurrence and spread. We used weights of evidence techniques to model spatial patterns of wildfire occurrence in relation to landscape-scale drivers of fire in the southern Great Basin. Weights of evidence is a quantitative, data-driven, Bayesia...

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