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A decision tool to identify population management strategies for common ravens and other avian predators

September 27, 2021

Some avian species have developed the capacity to leverage resource subsidies associated with human manipulated landscapes to increase population densities in habitats with naturally low carrying capacities. Elevated corvid densities and new territory establishment have led to an unsustainable increase in depredation pressure on sympatric native wildlife prey populations as well as in crop damage. Yet, subsidized predator removal programs aimed at reducing densities are likely most effective longer-term when conducted in tandem with subsidy control, habitat management, and robust assessment monitoring programs. We developed decision support software that leverages stage structured Lefkovitch population matrices to compare and identify treatment strategies that reduce subsidized avian predator densities most efficiently, in terms of limiting both cost and take levels. The StallPOPd (Version 4; available at software enables managers to enter the area of their management stratum and the demographic properties (vital rates) of target bird population(s) of interest to evaluate strategies to decrease or curtail further population growth. Strategies explicitly include the reduction in fertility (i.e., eggs hatched) and/or the culling of hatchlings, non-breeders and/or breeders, but implicitly comprise reduction in survival or reproduction through subsidy denial. We illustrate the utilities of the software with examples using common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens) in the Mojave Desert of California, USA. Unfortunately, the survival and reproduction effects of each unit of a particular subsidy in that system have remained elusive, though this is the priority of current research. Because the software leverages a life history representation that is known to characterize hundreds of wildlife species in addition to ravens, the work expands the suite of tools available to wildlife managers and agricultural industry specialists to abate bird damage and impacts on sensitive wildlife in habitats with persistent human subsidies.

Publication Year 2021
Title A decision tool to identify population management strategies for common ravens and other avian predators
DOI 10.26077/e056-1a58
Authors Andrea Faye Currylow, Brenda Hanley, Kerry L. Holcomb, Timothy Shields, Stephen Boland, William Boarman, Mercy Vaughn
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Human-Wildlife Interactions
Index ID 70236996
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center