Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Ho Yi Wan

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Micaela Szykman Gunther

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Samuel Alan Cushman

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional


Ecological niche modeling, Ensemble modeling, Mexican spotted owl, Model portability, spatial scale, Species Distribution Modeling, Strix occidentalis

Subject Categories



Habitat fragmentation and loss are major threats to species conservation worldwide. Studying species-habitat relationships is a crucial first step toward understanding species habitat requirements, which is necessary for conservation and management planning. However, some species inhabit a range of habitat types, potentially making the use of range-wide habitat models inappropriate due to non-stationarity. The Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) (MSO) is a species that inhabits both forests and rocky canyonlands, two habitats with large differences in environmental conditions. It is unclear whether the species uses habitat differently in these two habitat types or if previously builthabitat models for forest-dwelling owls can be used to understand where MSO use habitat in rocky canyonlands. To explore this, we developed the first scale-optimized habitat suitability model for this subspecies of spotted owl in rocky canyonlands using an ensemble framework. I then compared my results with a previously builthabitat model for MSO in forested areas. In the rocky canyonland model, slope (800 m scale), cumulative degree days (1200 m scale), insolation (1000 m scale), and monsoon precipitation (100 m scale) were the most important environmental covariates. In contrast, in the forest model, percent canopy cover (100 m scale), percent mixed-conifer (5000 m scale), and slope (500 m scale) were the most important environmental covariates. The rocky canyonland model performed well, while the forest model performed poorly and predicted low suitability across the entire study area, including areas with known nesting locations. These results confirm the non-stationarity in habitat use for MSOs between rocky canyonland and forest habitats and underscore the importance of accounting for non-stationarity across different geographic regions when modeling habitat. Hence, when transferring habitat suitability models from one region to another, it is necessary to evaluate the transferability of the model by accounting for non-stationarity.


Sorry for the inconvenience. I just added two figures as requested by my main advisor (Dr. Ho Yi Wan) to my thesis. I have updated the table of contents as well. So please consider this revised submission.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management


Thesis/Project Location


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