ESR 13:145-157 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00323

Satellite imagery reveals new critical habitat for Endangered bird species in the high Andes of Peru

Phred M. Benham1, Elizabeth J. Beckman1, Shane G. DuBay1, L. Mónica Flores2, Andrew B. Johnson1, Michael J. Lelevier1, C. Jonathan Schmitt1, Natalie A. Wright1, Christopher C. Witt1,*

1Museum of Southwestern Biology and Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110, USA
2Centro de Ornitologia y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), Urb. Huertos de San Antonio, Surco, Lima, Peru
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: High-resolution satellite imagery that is freely available on Google Earth provides a powerful tool for quantifying habitats that are small in extent and difficult to detect by medium-resolution Landsat imagery. Relictual Polylepis forests of the high Andes are of critical importance to several globally threatened bird species, but, despite growing international attention to Polylepis conservation, many gaps remain in our knowledge of its distribution. We examined high-resolution satellite imagery in Google Earth to search for new areas of Polylepis in south-central Peru that potentially support Polylepis-specialist bird species. In central Apurímac an extensive region of high-resolution satellite imagery contained 127 Polylepis fragments, totaling 683.15 ha of forest ranging from 4000 to 4750 m a.s.l. Subsequent fieldwork confirmed the presence of mature Polylepis forest and all 6 Polylepis-specialist bird species, 5 of which are considered globally threatened. Our findings (1) demonstrate the utility of Google Earth for applied conservation and (2) suggest improved prospects for the persistence of the Polylepis-associated avifauna.


KEY WORDS: Satellite imagery · Google Earth · High Andes · Polylepis forest · Habitat conservation · Cinclodes aricomae · Leptasthenura xenothorax · Anairetes alpinus


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Cite this article as: Benham PM, Beckman EJ, DuBay SG, Flores LM. LM and others (2011) Satellite imagery reveals new critical habitat for Endangered bird species in the high Andes of Peru. Endang Species Res 13:145-157

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