Effects of Landscape and Local Habitat Attributes on Northern Goshawk Site Occupancy in Western Washington

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We quantified habitat structure, composition, and configuration at three spatial scales (39 ha nest area; 177 ha post-fledging area; 1,886 ha home range) and compared vegetative conditions with measures of northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) site occupancy at 30 historical nest sites (those containing at least one goshawk and a large stick nest when discovered) on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Twelve of the 30 historical sites were occupied by one or more goshawks and 8 of the 12 contained a successful breeding pair. Sites that were occupied in 1 yr tended to remain occupied throughout the 3 yr study, and breeding success was strongly and positively correlated with occupancy. Occupied historical sites tended to have a high proportion of late-seral forest [>70% canopy closure of conifer species with >10% of the canopy trees >53 cm diameter at breast height (dbh)], reduced stand initiation cover, and reduced landscape heterogeneity at all three scales, but only the two larger scale models predicted occupancy successfully. Incorporating habitat attributes previously measured at finer (stand level) scales (canopy depth and percent shrub cover in the nest stand) improved our larger (landscape level) scale models of goshawk occupancy. Olympic Peninsula forest managers can promote goshawk occupancy, and therefore reproduction, by limiting the amount of early forest stand initiation cover (<20%) and landscape contrast in the home range and by maintaining potential nest stands (≥39 ha) having deep canopies and reduced shrub cover. FOR. SCI. 47(3):427–436.

Keywords: Accipiter gentilis; Geographic Information Systems; Washington; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; northern goshawk; scale; wildlife-habitat relationships

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID, 83725, Phone: (208) 424-9542 a_gentilis@hotmail.com 2: College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Box 352100 Seattle, WA, 98195, Phone: (206) 616-6883; Fax: (206) 685-0790 corvid@u.washington.edu 3: Rayonier, 3033 Ingram St., Hoquiam, WA, 98550, Phone: (360) 538-4582 daniel.varland@rayonier.com

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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