The Influence of Land-cover Type and Vegetation on Nocturnal Foraging Activities and Vertebrate Prey Acquisition by Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia).

  • Author / Creator
    Marsh, Alan J
  • Studies of habitat selection by foraging animals assume patterns of animal presence correlate with successful foraging, without explicit evidence this is valid. I used GPS dataloggers and digital video recorders to determine precise locations where nocturnally foraging Burrowing Owls captured vertebrate prey. I compared land-cover type selection patterns using a presence-only Resource Selection Function (RSF) to a model that incorporated prey capture locations (CRSF). I also compared net prey returns in each cover type to better measure reward relative to foraging effort. Finally, I measured vegetative conditions at foraging and random locations. The RSF method did not reflect prey capture patterns, and cover-type rankings from this model are inaccurate. Burrowing Owls successfully forage across all cover types, albeit where vegetation is relatively sparse, with highest net energy returns in native grass. Conservation efforts for Burrowing Owls should focus on ensuring heterogeneity of plant heights and densities across the landscape.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.