Volume 86, Issue 3 e22169
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Breeding expansion of sandhill cranes in Quebec

Clara Casabona I Amat

Corresponding Author

Clara Casabona I Amat

Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6 Canada

Correspondence: Clara Casabona I Amat, Université Laval, 2405, rue de la Terrasse, bureau 2111, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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Antoine Adde

Antoine Adde

Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6 Canada

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Marc J. Mazerolle

Marc J. Mazerolle

Centre d'étude de la forêt, Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6 Canada

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Christine Lepage

Christine Lepage

Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Québec, QC, G1J 0C3 Canada

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Marcel Darveau

Marcel Darveau

Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6 Canada

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First published: 11 January 2022

Abstract

Sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis) were broadly extirpated from much of their historical range in North America at the beginning of the twentieth century. Various conservation-related legislation, such as the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act, have assisted with population recovery. The eastern population of sandhill cranes has been growing rapidly since the 1980s and is thought to have expanded its geographic range to Quebec, Canada. Understanding the colonization and habitat use by the species in previously unoccupied breeding areas is necessary to develop and apply management measures. Using a dynamic occupancy modeling approach, we investigated the recent colonization and extirpation patterns of sandhill cranes in Quebec from 2004–2019. We combined data from 3 data sets (helicopter surveys, breeding bird atlas surveys, and eBird) to increase the spatial coverage and the number of species occurrence records while accounting for imperfect detection probability. Detection probability was highest for the helicopter survey (0.70), whereas the 2 other data sets had relatively low detection levels (0.10–0.26). Based on a simulation study, we found that excluding the eBird data from the analysis produced more biased estimates than excluding the atlas and helicopter survey data sets. Throughout the study, sandhill cranes seemed to have completed their colonization of western Quebec and only recently started to nest in eastern areas. Initial occupancy increased with wetland cover and colonization probability increased weakly with the cover of agricultural areas, suggesting that in our study area sandhill cranes rely essentially on natural wetlands during the breeding season.

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interests.

DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

Code and simulated data is available at the repository https://github.com/Clara-Casabona/Sandhill_Crane_code_spring.git.