Skip to Main Content
Prey ecology of Mexican spotted owls in pine-oak forests of northern ArizonaAuthor(s): William M. Block; Joseph L. Ganey; Peter E. Scott; Rudy M. King
Source: Journal of Wildlife Management. 69(2): 618-629.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (151.68 KB)
DescriptionWe studied Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) diets and the relative abundance and habitat associations of major prey species in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)–Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) forest in northcentral Arizona, USA, from 1990 to 1993. The owl’s diet was comprised of 94% mammals by biomass and consisted of primarily the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), brush mouse (P. boylii), Mexican woodrat (Neotoma mexicana), and Mexican vole (Microtus mexicanus). Spotted owl prey in our study area were smaller on average than prey in other locations, and the total biomass of potential prey was less than that reported in other areas within the owl’s geographic range. Although all prey populations exhibited seasonal fluctuations in relative abundance, only the deer mouse exhibited significant temporal variation in population abundance. The general pattern was for prey populations to rise during spring, peak during summer, decline in fall, and reach a winter low. Deer mice exhibited the greatest amplitude in population change as evidenced by the shift from a high of 12.2 mice/ha (SE = 2.3) during summer 1991 to a low of 3.3 mice/ha (SE = 0.7) during winter 1991–1992. Woodrats and brush mice used areas on slopes >20° with relatively more rocks and shrub cover than found in other areas. In contrast, deer mice were found in forests with relatively open understories and little Gambel oak. Conservation measures for the Mexican spotted owl must include management directed at sustaining or increasing prey numbers rather than assuming that managing for owl nesting and roosting habitat will provide favorable conditions for the prey as well. Management practices that increase and sustain shrub and herbaceous vegetation should receive the highest priority. This can be accomplished by thinning small diameter trees, using prescribed fire, and managing grazing pressures.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBlock, William M.; Ganey, Joseph L.; Scott, Peter E.; King, Rudy M. 2005. Prey ecology of Mexican spotted owls in pine-oak forests of northern Arizona. Journal of Wildlife Management. 69(2): 618-629.
Keywordsbrush mouse, deer mouse, diet, habitat selection, Mexican spotted owl, Mexican woodrat, Neotoma mexicana, north-central Arizona, Peromyscus boylii, P. maniculatus, ponderosa pine–Gambel oak forest, prey abundance, prey habitat, Strix occidentalis lucida
- Response of small mammal populations to fuel treatment and precipitation in a ponderosa pine forest, New Mexico
- Effects of wildfire severity on small mammals in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests
- Effects of prairie dog rodenticides on deer mice in western South Dakota
XML: View XML