HABITAT SELECTION BY NORTHERN GOSHAWKS (ACCIPITER GENTILIS) IN A FIRE-PRONE FOREST IN THE SIERRA NEVADA, CALIFORNIA.
Rachel V. Blakey; The Institute for Bird Populations/University of Missouri; PO Box 1346, Point Reyes Station, CA, 94956; (626) 660-8049; rachelvblakey@gmail.com; Rodney B. Siegel, Elisabeth B. Webb, Colin P. Dillingham, Matthew Johnson, Dylan C. Kesler
The northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is an apex predator of coniferous forests likely to be affected by changing fire regimes. We tracked 15 Northern Goshawks using GPS loggers over 4 years to investigate roosting and foraging habitat selection in the context of a spatially heterogeneous fire regime. We evaluated movements at landscape, home range, daily and foray spatial scales. Goshawks selected late-seral stage habitat for both roosting and foraging at multiple spatial scales. Less than 2% of Northern Goshawk roosts were in recently burned areas and goshawks avoided high severity burned areas when foraging across all scales, but selected for low-medium severity burned areas at the landscape scale. No goshawks migrated, but four individuals undertook forays, up to 15 km from their nest location, and others may have left and not returned to our study areas. High severity fires are likely to destroy both foraging and roosting habitat for northern goshawks, but lower severity burns may provide foraging opportunities for this generalist predator. Given the dependence of goshawks on late-seral forests, threat of high severity fire, and their apparent selection of lower-severity burned areas, future studies could examine effects of fuel reduction treatments or other management strategies on this species.
Wildfire and Wildlife