Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Wildlife & Fisheries Biology

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Allan Strong

Second Advisor

Dr. James Murdoch

Third Advisor

Dr. Brittany Mosher


Olive-sided Flycatcher, Occupancy Model, Northeastern United States


The Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) is a migratory bird species that breeds in coniferous forests and bogs. Over the past few decades, they have shown significant population declines across their range, particularly at the southern edge. These declines have prompted many government agencies to list them as a Species of Special Concern and have renewed interest in conservation. Therefore, tools are needed to better understand their habitat relationships and guide potential conservation actions in the northeastern United States. In this project, a presence-only occupancy model was developed to examine the impacts of habitat factors on Olive-sided Flycatcher occupancy in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Olive-sided Flycatcher observations from year to year were obtained from eBird, a large community science database. Habitat covariates were chosen based on existing knowledge of the species’ habitat requirements and these were derived from the National Land Cover Database. Multiple models were considered including proportion of coniferous forests, wetlands, developed areas, canopy cover, and distance to the nearest road. I used the R-package maxlike to assess how well these habitat variables predicted the occurrence of Olive-sided Flycatchers. The top model received overwhelming empirical support and showed that Olive-sided Flycatcher occupancy in the northeastern United States is best represented by the proportion of wetlands in the surrounding area. These results suggest that wetlands, bogs, and beaver meadows could provide important habitat for Olive-sided Flycatchers. The conservation, restoration, and creations of wetlands may help support their declining populations in the Northeast.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.