Stable isotopes reveal unexpected relationships between fire history and the diet of Spotted OwlsAuthor(s): Brendan K. Hobart; H. Anu Kramer; Gavin M. Jones; Brian P. Dotters; Sheila A. Whitmore; John J. Keane; M. Zachariah. Peery
Source: Ibis. 163(1): 253-259.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Although the effects of shifting fire regimes on bird populations have been recognized as important to ecology and conservation, the consequences of fire for trophic interactions of avian species – and raptors in particular – remain relatively unknown. Here, we found that within national parks with long‐standing (40+ years) fire management programmes, California Spotted Owls Strix occidentalis occidentalis consumed predominantly Woodrats Neotoma spp. and Pocket Gophers Thomomys spp.; however, in contrast to our predictions, when their territories experienced more extensive and frequent fire, Spotted Owls consumed proportionally more Flying Squirrels Glaucomys oregonensis. We hypothesize this finding could have been driven by either changes to prey abundance following fires (e.g. increases in flying squirrels) or changes to prey availability (e.g. shifts in forest structure or flying squirrel spatial distribution that increased predation upon them by owls). Our work thus demonstrates that fire may have unexpected consequences for the trophic interactions of raptor species and provides valuable information for the conservation of Spotted Owls in fire‐prone forest landscapes.
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CitationHobart, Brendan K.; Kramer, H. Anu; Jones, Gavin M.; Dotters, Brian P.; Whitmore, Sheila A.; Keane, John J.; Peery, M. Zachariah. 2021. Stable isotopes reveal unexpected relationships between fire history and the diet of Spotted Owls. Ibis. 163(1): 253-259. https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12832.
Keywordsfire ecology, mixing models, Sierra Nevada, Strix occidentalis, trophic interactions
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