WERC scientists were featured in a LA Times news article about burrowing owls and other wildlife at the LAX Dunes Preserve. The WERC team is studying the isolated population of horned lizards at the preserve, a potential prey item for the burrowing owls. Approximately ten burrowing owls, including a breeding pair, were discovered recently at the 302-acre preserve. This is the highest number of burrowing owls seen in the area for 40 years, a sign of a successful restoration program begun in the 1990s. The LAX Dunes Preserve, sandwiched between a popular beach and LAX airport, is home to 900 species of plants and animals, including the horned lizards, the burrowing owls, the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly, the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, and elusive legless lizards. In addition to the owl discovery, the article notes that WERC scientists recently found six legless lizards at the preserve, a notable event for a poorly understood species. USGS research at restoration sites like the LAX Dunes Preserve provides information that is critical to land and resource managers.
Watch a new video of a burrowing owl regurgitating a pellet at the LAX Dunes recorded by WERC scientists here.