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A ‘burning issue’: Spotted owls use fire mosaic

Cara J

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Before mega-fires like the 2013 Rim Fire burned large swaths of the landscape, Yosemite National Park had been setting smaller prescribed fires to regenerate the forest. In a study published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, researchers looked at habitat occupation by California spotted owls (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) to see how the park’s prescribed burn program affects their conservation. The team found that owls selected a mosaic of burned patches of different sizes and severities, although they tended to avoid the interior of badly burned areas. “Continuing to have high-severity fire is not bad for owls as long as it’s occurring in patch sizes within the natural range of variation, embedded within a mosaic landscape,” said TWS member Stephanie Eyes, a wildlife biologist with Yosemite National Park and lead author of the study. Because many of the team’s monitoring sites were burned by large fires such as the Rim Fire, Eyes said, researchers couldn’t investigate the impacts of these massive fires. Stephanie Eyes performs radio telemetry to determine owl locations in Yosemite National Park. ©Scott Scherbinski Eyes will present her research at a symposium called “Wildlife and Spotted Owls: It’s a Burning Issue” at the upcoming annual TWS conference in Albuquerque. Fifteen [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/a-burning-issue-spotted-owls-use-fire-mosaic/

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