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It’s tall forests, not dense ones, spotted owls prefer


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In what is believed to be the largest spotted owl study in terms of area analyzed, remote sensing technology is providing a more precise look at habitat preferences for the sensitive species with implications for greater flexibility in forest management. “For the last 25 years, forests in the western United States have been managed to protect habitat for spotted owls based on ground surveys that were limited by plots with a small sample area and what could be seen from the forest floor,” said Malcolm North, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station and lead author of the study. “We’re employing relatively new technology to get a new vantage point into the forest canopy — across an unprecedented amount of terrain — to better understand what that means for spotted owls.” Using Light Detection and Ranging imaging, or LiDAR, North and colleagues from partnering organizations studied forest attributes across 1.2 million acres, encompassing 316 documented owl territories, along California’s Sierra Nevada. LiDAR uses laser pulses shot from an instrument mounted in an airplane that can measure a forest’s canopy, including tree height, distribution of tree foliage and any forest gaps. Whereas previous research led to [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/its-tall-forests-not-dense-ones-spotted-owls-prefer/

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