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Modeling Nesting Habitat Selection of California Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) in the Central Sierra Nevada Using Standard Forest Inventory Metrics

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California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) nest sites are associated with large trees, moderate-to-high tree densities, high canopy cover, and structural complexity. Therefore, forest managers need accurate estimates of these characteristics. Standard forest inventory metrics, such as those estimated from Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data, are used by silviculturists to assess forest trends and condition, and are a source of data for assessing wildlife habitat. We estimated which FIA metrics best predicted California spotted owl nesting habitat by developing a nesting-habitat model comparing owl nest stands with randomly chosen forest stands in potential nesting habitat (stands dominated by 30–60.9- and ≥61-cm diameter trees and ≥40% cover) in the central Sierra Nevada. Number of large trees (≥76.2 cm) and canopy cover were the best predictors of owl nesting habitat. We present a nesting-habitat selection model based on our analysis. FIA metrics may be useful for quantifying California spotted owl habitat in our study area, but because forest conditions are highly variable in the Sierra Nevada, our results should be tested further in other geographic regions. FOR. SCI. 50(6):773–780.

Keywords: California spotted owl; Forest Inventory and Analysis; Sierra Nevada; Strix occidentalis occidentalis; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; model selection; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology University of Minnesota St. Paul MN 55108 Phone: (951) 659-6053 x304;, Fax: (951) 659-2484, Email: 2: Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology University of Minnesota St. Paul MN 55108 Phone: (612) 624-7709, Email: 3: Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology University of Minnesota St. Paul MN 55108 Phone: (612) 624-2720, Email:

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 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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