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SBSC Research on Barred and Spotted Owls Covered by Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America put out a press release on a paper that investigated the relative importance of barred owl competition and habitat on northern spotted owls in an effort to assist managers. The lead author of the paper is Charles Yackulic of the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center.

Image: Northern Spotted Owls
Northern spotted owls. These owls are exhibiting a threat display. (Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)

The northern spotted owl (hereafter spotted owl) is a federally threaten species that lives in western Washington and Oregon and northwestern California. Over the past 30 years, spotted owl populations have declined and habitat loss and competition with barred owls have been implicated in that decline. The authors of this paper used data from 1995-2013 from across most of the range of spotted owls in the United States to determine the relative importance of barred owls and habitat on spotted owls. Additionally, they modeled the probability of spotted owls occupying habitat across their range in the United States for the next 50 years based on a range of habitat conditions and barred owl removals. A major finding of the paper is that using both short-term (barred owl removal) and long-term approaches (promoting habitat conditions by facilitating forest succession) can complement each other in spotted owl management. Results provide by this research can provide some insight to managers on potentially fruitful strategies for increasing spotted owl populations in a situation that is very complex from an ecological and management perspective.


Yackulic, C.B., Bailey, L.L., Dugger, K.M., Davis, R.J., Franklin, A.B., Forsman, E.D., Ackers, S.H., Andrews, L.S., Diller, L.V., Gremel.,  S.A., Hamm, K.A., Herter, D.R., Higley, J.M., Horn, R.B., McCafferty, C., Reid, J.A., Rockweit, J.T., and, Sovern, S.G., 2019, The past and future roles of competition and habitat in the range-wide occupancy dynamics of northern spotted owls: Ecological  Applications,

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