In species-habitat association studies, both the type and spatial scale of habitat covariates need to match the ecology of the focal species. We assessed the potential of high-resolution satellite imagery for generating habitat covariates using camera-trapping data from Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, within an occupancy framework. We tested the predictive power of covariates generated from satellite imagery at different resolutions and extents (focal patch sizes, 10-500 m around sample points) on estimates of occupancy patterns of six small to medium sized mammal species/species groups. High-resolution land cover information had considerably more model support for small, patchily distributed habitat features, whereas it had no advantage for large, homogeneous habitat features. A comparison of different focal patch sizes including remote sensing data and an in-situ measure showed that patches with a 50-m radius had most support for the target species. Thus, high-resolution satellite imagery proved to be particularly useful in heterogeneous landscapes, and can be used as a surrogate for certain in-situ measures, reducing field effort in logistically challenging environments. Additionally, remote sensed data provide more flexibility in defining appropriate spatial scales, which we show to impact estimates of wildlife-habitat associations.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.