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Invader removal triggers competitive release in a threatened avian predator

August 3, 2021

Invasive species can cause extinctions of native species and widespread biodiversity loss. Invader removal is a common management response, but the use of long-term field experiments to characterize effectiveness of removals in benefitting impacted native species is rare. We used a large-scale removal experiment to investigate the demographic response of a threatened native species, the northern spotted owl, to removal of an invasive competitor species, the barred owl. Removal of barred owls had a strong, positive effect on survival of spotted owls, which arrested long-term population declines of spotted owls. The results demonstrate that the long-term persistence of spotted owls will depend heavily on reducing the negative impacts of barred owls while simultaneously addressing other threats, such as habitat loss.