Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Stuart L. Pimm

Committee Members

Arthur C. Echternacht, David A. Buehler, Kenneth H. Orvis


This dissertation discusses several techniques of combining ecology and technology, specifically satellite images and geographic information systems, to define conservation priorities and answer conservation questions. They include single species approaches (chapters 2 and 3), global approaches (chapter 4), and regional approaches (chapters 5 and 6).

Chapters 2 and 3 concern the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus mirabilis maritimus). This sparrow, and its habitat, is legally protected under the United States Endangered Species Act. Chapter 2 quantitatively demonstrates that poor water management is threatening the habitat of this sparrow and by consequence its survival. Chapter 3 describes formal testing of the habitat maps from chapter 2 and the ecological lessons learned from the test results.

Chapter 4 is an analysis of the global ‘weed patch’, the area of the world that is favorable for invasive species. The results from this chapter should help define priority areas for combating invasive species.

Chapters 5 and 6 discuss bird conservation in the Atlantic Forests of Brazil, specifically in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Chapter 5 approaches this from the forest level, focusing on forest fragment size and connectivity. Chapter 6 analyzes existing priority-setting methods in the Atlantic Forest, finds them deficient, and describes a new methodology to define bird conservation priorities.

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