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Efficacy of manipulating reproduction of common ravens to conserve sensitive prey species: Three case studies

December 31, 2021

Expansion of human enterprise across western North America has resulted in an increase in availability of anthropogenic resource subsidies for generalist species. This has led to increases in generalists’ population numbers across landscapes that were previously less suitable for their current demographic rates. Of particular concern are growing populations of common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens), because predation by ravens is linked to population declines of sensitive species. Ecosystem managers seek management options for mitigating the adverse effects of raven predation where unsustainable predator–prey conflicts exist. We present 3 case studies examining how manipulating reproductive success of ravens influences demographic rates of 2 sensitive prey species. Two case studies examine impacts of removing raven nests or oiling raven eggs on nest survival of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) within Wyoming and the Great Basin of California and Nevada, USA, respectively. The third case study uses Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii; tortoise) decoys to examine effects of oiling raven eggs on depredation rates of juvenile tortoises in the Mojave Desert in California. Initial trial years from all 3 case studies were consistent in finding improved vital rates associated with the application of strategies for reducing reproductive success of ravens. Specifically, removal of raven nests resulted in increased nest survival of sage-grouse within treatment areas where predation by ravens was the primary cause of nest failure. In addition, nest survival of sage-grouse and survival of juvenile tortoise decoys was higher following a treatment of oiling the eggs of ravens in their nests at 2 sites within the Great Basin and 4 tortoise conservation areas in the Mojave Desert in California. Along with specialized technologies that can make techniques such as egg-oiling more feasible, these findings support these management practices as important tools for managing ravens, especially in areas where breeding ravens have negative impacts on sensitive prey species.

Publication Year 2021
Title Efficacy of manipulating reproduction of common ravens to conserve sensitive prey species: Three case studies
DOI 10.26077/babz-5e78
Authors Corina A. Sanchez, Brianne E. Brussee, Peter S. Coates, Kerry L. Holcomb, Seth M. Harju, Timothy A. Shields, Mercy Vaughn, Brian G. Prochazka, Steven R. Mathews, Steffen Cornell, Chad V. Olson, David J. Delehanty
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Human–Wildlife Interactions
Index ID 70240355
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center