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Influence of primary prey on home-range size and habitat-use patterns of northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina)

Publication: Canadian Journal of Zoology
March 1995

Abstract

Correlations between the home-range size of northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) and proportion of their range in old-growth forest have been reported, but there are few data on the relationship between their home-range size and prey. The primary prey of spotted owls are wood rats and northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus). Wood rats are larger and heavier than flying squirrels, and their population densities tend to be much greater than those of flying squirrels. We present data indicating that the home ranges of spotted owls are smaller where their diet consists predominantly of wood rats than where it consists predominantly of flying squirrels, and the proportion of the diet consisting of wood rats and flying squirrels explained significant variation in home-range size. We also found a significant correlation between home-range size and abundance of wood rats. These data indicate that prey species are a better predictor of home-range size than the proportion of older forest within spotted owl home ranges in the Klamath Province of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, an area that is predominantly late-successional forest. Differences in habitat use were also related to prey species. Where spotted owls foraged for wood rats, the results indicated a preference for habitat edges, but where they utilized flying squirrels no such patterns were apparent.

Résumé

Les corrélations entre la taille du domaine vital de la Choutte tachetée Strix occidentalis caurina et la proportion de ce domaine occupée par des vieilles forêts sont connues, mais peu de données ont été publiées sur la relation entre la taille du domaine vital et les proies des chouettes. Des néotomas (Neotoma sp.) et des Grands Polatouches (Glaucomys sabrinus) comptent parmi les principales proies de cette chouette. Les néotomas sont plus gros et plus lourds que les polatouches et leurs populations ont des densités qui ont tendance à être plus élevées que celles des populations de polatouches. Nos résultats indiquent que les domaines vitaux des chouettes sont plus restreints là où leur régime alimentaire est constitué surtout de néotomas que là où le régime se compose surtout de polatouches et la proportion de néotomas et de polatouches dans le régime explique la variation significative observée entre les domaines vitaux Nous avons également trouvé une corrélation significative entre la taille des domaines et l'abondance des néotomas. Ces données démontrent que la nature des proies est un meilleur indicateur de la taille du domaine que la proportion de vieille forêt incluse dans le domaine dans la province de Klamath, dans le nord-ouest de la Californie et le sud-ouest de l'Oregon, une zone occupée surtout par des forêts en fin de succession. L'utilisation de l'habitat varie également en fonction du type de proie. Là où les chouettes recherchent les néotomas, elles manifestent une préférence pour les écotones, préférence qui ne semble pas prévaloir dans les zones où les proies sont des polatouches.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

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cover image Canadian Journal of Zoology
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Volume 73Number 3March 1995
Pages: 433 - 439

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Version of record online: 15 February 2011

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