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JWM study: Ferruginous hawks benefit from some human development

Cara J

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There’s no shortage of stories these days about wild animal populations decreasing due to habitat loss from human development. However, sometimes there’s a story in which human development actually benefits a species. A recently published study in the Journal of Wildlife Management provides such an example. The authors examined the diets of ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis) in rural and exurban areas of New Mexico. William H. Keeley, a wildlife ecologist at Boise State University and lead author of the study, defines exurban development as “an expansive human land use pattern characterized by one dwelling for every 20-40 acres. It usually occurs on the outskirts of urban areas where folks prefer a bit more land than urbanites. It also has a profound effect on habitat quality as roads and other human infrastructure effectively fragment habitat.” From 2004-2005, Keeley and his co-authors studied the diets of two separate ferruginous hawk populations, one in Estancia Valley (exurban) and one in the Plains of San Agustin (rural). Both habitats are grasslands that share similar elevations, levels of precipitation, maximum temperatures and vegetation. However, Estancia Valley has significantly more human development (one house per 26 hectares) than the Plains of San Agustin (one house per [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/jwm-study-ferruginous-hawks-benefit-from-some-human-development/

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