Abstract Title

Impact of the 2020 Wildfires on Abundance of Prey Species Important to the Northern Goshawk within the Sawtooth National Forest

Additional Funding Sources

This research, conducted at the Raptor Research Experiences for Undergraduates site, was supported by the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense under Grant No. DBI-1852133 and by Boise State University.

Abstract

The Northern Goshawk is an apex predator that is used as an indicator species for the Sawtooth National Forest in which a 90,000-acre wildfire burned in the fall of 2020. We chose to study the impact of the fire on this species by surveying for prey abundance in burned and unburned territories. To estimate prey abundance, we utilized distance sampling in each territory and used the estimates as a response variable in a general liner model where average burn severity is the predictor. We expect that for most species, abundance will be significantly lower in severely burned areas. Should these predictions be correct, increasingly frequent and severe fires could lead to the extirpation of Northern Goshawks within this region of the Sawtooth National Forest. In the fall of 2021, prescribed burns are planned that may impact multiple goshawk territories. Although these burns are intended to improve the habitat, the pressure from declining prey populations could threaten this already vulnerable goshawk population. The implications of this study are important for forest management strategies as the threat of severe fires is predicted to increase within the Sawtooth National Forest.

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Impact of the 2020 Wildfires on Abundance of Prey Species Important to the Northern Goshawk within the Sawtooth National Forest

The Northern Goshawk is an apex predator that is used as an indicator species for the Sawtooth National Forest in which a 90,000-acre wildfire burned in the fall of 2020. We chose to study the impact of the fire on this species by surveying for prey abundance in burned and unburned territories. To estimate prey abundance, we utilized distance sampling in each territory and used the estimates as a response variable in a general liner model where average burn severity is the predictor. We expect that for most species, abundance will be significantly lower in severely burned areas. Should these predictions be correct, increasingly frequent and severe fires could lead to the extirpation of Northern Goshawks within this region of the Sawtooth National Forest. In the fall of 2021, prescribed burns are planned that may impact multiple goshawk territories. Although these burns are intended to improve the habitat, the pressure from declining prey populations could threaten this already vulnerable goshawk population. The implications of this study are important for forest management strategies as the threat of severe fires is predicted to increase within the Sawtooth National Forest.