Brett G. Dickson's research while affiliated with Northern Arizona University and other places

Publications (107)

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Wind energy is a growing source of renewable energy with a 3-fold increase in use globally over the last decade. However, wind turbines cause bat mortality, especially for migratory species. The southwest United States has high bat species diversity and is an important area for migratory species, although little is known about their seasonal distri...
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Freshwater ecosystems are facing a deepening biodiversity crisis. Developing robust indicators to assess ecological integrity across large spatial scales and identifying the specific threats and pathways of impairment are thus critically needed if we are to inform freshwater conservation strategies. Here we present the first comprehensive threat as...
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Climate change and disease are threats to biodiversity that may compound and interact with one another in ways that are difficult to predict. White-nose syndrome (WNS), caused by a cold-loving fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), has had devastating impacts on North American hibernating bats, and impact severity has been linked to hibernaculum mi...
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Dams are socio‐ecological structures fundamentally serving human population growth and economic development. Yet, dams have significantly reduced landscape connectivity, altered hydrologic and geomorphic dynamics, and are a leading cause of freshwater biodiversity decline. As dams age and are no longer used for their original intended purpose, they...
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Aim The fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans and resultant white-nose syndrome (WNS) continues to advance across North America, infecting new bat hibernacula. Western North America hosts the highest bat diversity in the United States and Canada, yet little is known about hibernacula and hibernation behaviour in this region. An improved unde...
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ContextLarge landscapes exhibit natural heterogeneity. Land management can impose additional variation, altering ecosystem patterns. Habitat characteristics may reflect these management factors, potentially resulting in habitat differences that manifest along jurisdictional boundaries.Objectives We characterized the patchwork of habitats across a c...
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The conservation field is experiencing a rapid increase in the amount, variety, and quality of spatial data that can help us understand species movement and landscape connectivity patterns. As interest grows in more dynamic representations of movement potential, modelers are often limited by the capacity of their analytic tools to handle these data...
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Resilience quantifies the ability of a system to remain in or return to its current state following disturbance. Due to inconsistent terminology and usage of resilience frameworks, quantitative resilience studies are challenging, and resilience is often treated as an abstract concept rather than a measurable system characteristic. We used a novel,...
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Human‐induced ecological boundaries, or anthropogenic ecotones, may arise where administrative boundaries meet on undeveloped lands. Landscape‐level ecological processes related to factors such as fire, invasive species, grazing, resource extraction, wildlife, and water may be affected due to unique management strategies adopted by each administrat...
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Despite the vital role of private lands as habitat for imperiled species and as important components of functioning protected area networks, incorporation of private lands into national and regional conservation planning has been challenging. Identifying locations where private landowners are likely to participate in conservation initiatives can he...
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As a multi-jurisdictional, non-fire-adapted region, the Sonoran Desert Ecoregion is a complex, social-ecological system faced increasingly with no-analogue conditions. A diversity of management objectives and activities form the socioecological landscape of fire management. Different managers have different objectives, resources, and constraints, a...
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Altered fire regimes are among the most destructive consequences of anthropogenic environmental change. Fires have increased in frequency in some regions, and invasion by fire-adapted non-native species has been identified as a major driver of this change, which results in a feedback cycle promoting further spread by the non-native species and dimi...
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Background Preserving corridors for movement and gene flow among populations can assist in the recovery of threatened and endangered species. As human activity continues to fragment habitats, characterizing natural corridors is important in establishing and maintaining connectivity corridors within the anthropogenic development matrix. The Mojave d...
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Caves and other subterranean features provide unique environments for many species. The importance of cave microclimate is particularly relevant at temperate latitudes where bats make seasonal use of caves for hibernation. White‐nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has devastated populations of hibernating bats across eastern and central Nort...
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While individual tree genotypes are known to differ in their impacts on local soil development, the spatial genetic influence of surrounding neighboring trees is largely unknown. We examine the hypothesis that fine root dynamics of a focal tree is based on the genetics of the focal tree as well as the genetics of neighbor trees that together define...
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As habitat destruction leads to species extinctions globally, conservation planning that accounts for population‐level connectivity and gene flow is an urgent priority. Models that only approximate habitat potential are incomplete because areas of high habitat potential may be isolated, whereas intermixed areas of lower habitat potential may still...
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More consistent and current estimates of forest land cover type and forest structural metrics are needed to guide national policies on forest management, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem health. In recent years, the increased availability of high-resolution (<30 m) imagery and advancements in machine learning algorithms have opened up a new oppo...
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Ever-increasing human pressures on cave biodiversity have amplified the need for systematic, repeatable, and intensive surveys of cave-dwelling arthropods to formulate evidence-based management decisions. We examined 110 papers (from 1967 to 2018) to: (i) understand how cave-dwelling invertebrates have been sampled; (ii) provide a summary of techni...
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Translocation is used by managers to mitigate the negative impacts of development on species. Moving individuals to a new location is challenging, and many translocation attempts have failed. Robust, posttranslocation monitoring is therefore important for evaluating effects of translocation on target species. We evaluated the efficacy of a transloc...
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Livestock grazing and fire can intensively modify montane meadows. Understanding how these factors affect habitat, species richness, and diversity of small mammals can inform management decisions. Few studies have investigated the independent and synergistic effects of grazing and wildfire on vegetation and small-mammal communities, and none have f...
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Conservation practitioners have long recognized ecological connectivity as a global priority for preserving biodiversity and ecosystem function. In the early years of conservation science, ecologists extended principles of island biogeography to assess connectivity based on source patch proximity and other metrics derived from binary maps of habita...
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Powerful innovations can occur when a concept is taken from one field and used to solve a problem in an unrelated field. In fact, it has been shown that as the distance between a problem solver's field of technical expertise and the focal field of a problem increase, so does the probability of success. This article is protected by copyright. All ri...
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There is broad consensus that wildfire activity is likely to increase in western US forests and woodlands over the next century. Therefore, spatial predictions of the potential for large wildfires have immediate and growing relevance to near- and long-term research, planning, and management objectives. Fuels, climate, weather, and the landscape all...
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Changes in fire frequency, size, and severity are driving ecological transformations in many systems. In arid and semi-arid regions that are adapted to fire, long-term fire exclusion by managers leads to declines in fire frequency, altered fire size distribution, and increased proportion of high severity fires. In arid and semi-arid systems where f...
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Aim: Identify the optimal combination of sampling techniques to maximize the detection of diversity of cave-dwelling arthropods. Location: Central-western New Mexico; northwestern Arizona; Rapa Nui, Chile. Methods: From 26 caves across three geographically distinct areas in the Western Hemisphere, arthropods were sampled using opportunistic col...
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In the context of concerns about degrading forest health, increasing fire activity, and practical restoration alternatives, we analyzed 20 years of data on the response of mixed conifer forest stands in the Sierra Nevada, California to two distinctly different management approaches. Specifically, we used a Bayesian hierarchical modeling approach to...
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There is broad consensus that wildfire activity is likely to increase in western US forests and woodlands over the next century. Therefore, spatial predictions of the potential for large wildfires have immediate and growing relevance to near- and long-term research, planning, and management objectives. Fuels, climate, weather, and the landscape all...
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Changes to animal movement in response to human-induced changes to the environment are of growing concern in conservation. Most research on this problem has focused on terrestrial endotherms, but changes to herpetofaunal movement are also of concern given their limited dispersal abilities and specialized thermophysiological requirements. Animals in...
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Since its inception, conservation biology has inspired thousands of students, spurred the creation of new initiatives, organizations and agencies, and informed conservation efforts worldwide. Nevertheless, global biodiversity loss is accelerating (Butchart et al. 2010), and our field needs to change to keep pace with mounting challenges. Conservati...
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Estimation of connectivity for multiple species could increase the efficiency of resource management and elucidate trade-offs among maintenance of connectivity for different taxa. We identified potential areas of high connectivity for 5 species of mammals on the Navajo Nation and adjacent lands in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, USA: mountain lion (...
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Habitat loss and modification are causing declines in the abundance and distribution of plant and animal species, yet robust information on which to base management and regulatory decisions for these species frequently is not available. Thamnophis gigas (Giant Gartersnakes), a species listed as threatened under the U.S. and California Endangered Sp...
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This study sought to identify critical areas for puma (Puma concolor) movement across the state of Arizona in the American Southwest and to identify those most likely to be impacted by current and future human land uses, particularly expanding urban development and associated increases in traffic volume. Human populations in this region are expandi...
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en Increasingly, point‐count data are used to estimate occupancy, the probability that a species is present at a given location; occupancy accounts for imperfect detection, the probability that a species is detected given that it is present. To our knowledge, effects of sampling duration on inferences from models of bird occupancy have not been eva...
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Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is popular for outdoor recreation across the United States, with especially high levels of participation in Arizona and the American Southwest. Road networks related to OHV recreation have the potential to influence kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) space use intensity. To evaluate the potential impacts of OHV road networks to...
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Under rapid landscape change, there is a significant need to expand and connect protected areas (PAs) to prevent further loss of biodiversity and preserve ecological functions across broad geographies. We used a model of landscape resistance and electronic circuit theory to estimate patterns of ecological flow among existing PAs in the western Unit...
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Context Strategic placement of fuel treatments across large landscapes is an important step to mitigate the collective effects of fires interacting over broad spatial and temporal extents. On landscapes where highly invasive cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is increasing fire activity, such an approach could help maintain landscape resilience. Objectiv...
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Given the rapid pace of renewable energy development, there is need to assess impacts of mitigation-driven translocations on sensitive species, including federally protected Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) distributed widely across a global solar energy hotspot. We monitored 215 tortoises over 3 years to evaluate translocation effects o...
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We used satellite-based remote sensing to estimate home ranges for Swainson’s Hawk, a species listed as threatened in California (USA), on its breeding grounds in the Natomas Basin (northern Central Valley, California) and to evaluate whether the species’ space-use intensity (statistically derived density of telemetry locations) was associated with...
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The loss and modification of freshwater ecosystems has led to high rates of imperilment for freshwater species. The Giant Gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas) is among the species that have suffered declines in abundance and spatial distribution and is currently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government and the State of California. Conservati...
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Increasingly, renewable energy comprises a larger share of global energy production. Across the western United States, public lands are being developed to support renewable energy production. Where there are conflicts with threatened or endangered species, translocation can be used in an attempt to mitigate negative effects. For the threatened Moja...
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Understanding where and when on the landscape fire is likely to burn (fire likelihood) and the predicted responses of valued resources (fire effects) will lead to more effective management of wildfire risk in multiple ecosystem types. Fire is a contagious and highly unpredictable process, and an analysis of fire connectivity that incorporates stoch...
Chapter
The response of native wildlife species to habitat change and the increased pace of large-scale forest restoration and fuels reduction treatments in managed forests of the southwestern United States is not well studied. Thus, there is a need to develop contemporary statistical models for evaluating the effect of these activities on animal populatio...
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The desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) is one of the few ungulates native to North America capable of surviving in harsh desert environments and xeric conditions. However, the effects of an increasingly arid climate on this species and its habitat are unknown. We sought to identify important predictors of desert bighorn sheep diurnal s...
Chapter
Nonnative invasive plants pose a significant threat to native biodiversity on National Park Service (NPS) and other public lands, which is a fact that prompts active federal prevention and control programs. Within the NPS, park units are assisted by the inventory and monitoring networks whose role is to provide long-term monitoring and limited rese...
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The frequency and size of wildfires within the Mojave Desert are increasing, possibly due to climate and land cover changes and associated increases in non-native invasive plant biomass, as measured by normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). These patterns are of particular concern to resource managers in regions where native plant communiti...
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With ongoing global change, there is an urgent need to expand existing networks of important conservation areas around the world. In the western United States, vast areas of public land, including those administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), present substantial conservation opportunities. For 11 contiguous western states, we used a no...
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Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) is an invasive species common to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts in the southwestern US. Our objective was to assess WorldView-2 (WV2) satellite imagery potential to detect Sahara mustard presence, cover, and biomass. We compared WV2 images (2.4 m and 30 m resolution) to Landsat ETM+ image both classified using...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods An ecosystem’s representative biological structure, composition, and function reflect long-term climatic drivers. However, most measurements of structure, composition, and function also reflect short-term weather. For example, butterflies and birds often are touted as highly responsive to climate change. Although this...
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Prioritizing areas for management of non-native invasive plants is critical, as invasive plants can negatively impact plant community structure. Extensive and multi-jurisdictional inventories are essential to prioritize actions aimed at mitigating the impact of invasions and changes in disturbance regimes. However, previous work devoted little effo...
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We estimated the current location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for 50 species of breeding birds in four mountain ranges in the central Great Basin (Lander, Nye, and Eureka Counties, Nevada) and projected the future location, quality, and connectivity of habitat for these species given different scenarios of climate-induced land-cover chang...
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Habitat corridors are important tools for maintaining connectivity in increasingly fragmented landscapes, but generally they have been considered in single-species approaches. Corridors intended to facilitate the movement of multiple species could increase persistence of entire communities, but at the likely cost of being less efficient for any giv...
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Wildlife species of conservation concern can present forest managers with a particular challenge when habitat needs appear to be in contrast with other management objectives, particularly fuel reduction to reduce wildfire risk. Proposed actions can be opposed by stakeholders, delaying management activities until a resolution is met. In the southwes...
Article
In the lower Sonoran Desert of south-western Arizona, climate change and non-native plant invasions have the potential to increase the frequency and size of uncommon wildfires. An understanding of where and why ignitions are more likely to become large fires will help mitigate the negative consequences of fire to native ecosystems. We use a general...