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Forest Stand Structure of the Northern Spotted Owl's Foraging Habitat

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Although the spotted owl's close association with old growth has been extensively studied, it has been more difficult to identify and quantify the abundance of particular stand structures associated with preferred owl foraging sites. Old-growth forests have a suite of characteristics that distinguish them from younger forests but which also make it difficult to isolate individual structural features important to the spotted owl. This study used an analysis of use-only sites in areas where natural disturbance had created a gradient of old-growth structural characteristics. We used radio telemetry data collected from reproducing owl pairs to locate sample stands and compute a relative measure of owl-use intensity in each stand. Snag volume and tree height class diversity (a measure of canopy layering) were the stand structures significantly associated with owl foraging intensity. Stands with 142 m³/ha of intact snags and a high diversity of tree heights had medium or high foraging use by spotted owls. In these old-growth stands, biological legacies (e.g., large trees and snags) produced by past disturbance provide important forest structures associated with spotted owl foraging use. For. Sci. 45(4):520-527.
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Keywords: Old growth; biological legacies; canopy structure; radio telemetry; stand structure

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Hamer Environmental, 19997 Hwy 9, Mt. Vernon, WA 98274

Publication date: 1999-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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