Why Barred Owls Have Negative Effects On Occupancy Dynamics Of Nesting Territories

1175 Words Oct 18th, 2016 5 Pages
The recent range expansion of Barred Owls (Strix varia) into the Pacific Northwest, where the species now co-occurs with the endemic Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), resulted in a unique opportunity to investigate potential competition between two congeneric, previously allopatric species. The primary criticism of early competition research was the use of current species’ distribution patterns to infer past processes; however, the recent expansion of the Barred Owl and the ability to model the processes that result in site occupancy (i.e., colonization and extinction) allowed us to address the competitive process directly rather than inferring past processes through current patterns. The purpose of our study was to determine whether Barred Owls had any negative effects on occupancy dynamics of nesting territories by Northern Spotted Owls and how these effects were influenced by habitat characteristics of Spotted Owl territories. We used single-species, multi-season occupancy models and covariates quantifying Barred Owl detections and habitat characteristics to model extinction and colonization rates of Spotted Owl pairs in southern Oregon, USA. We observed a strong, negative association between Barred Owl detections and colonization rates and a strong positive effect of Barred Owl detections on extinction rates of Spotted Owls. We observed increased extinction rates in response to decreased amounts of old forest at the territory core and higher colonization…

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