Remote sensing technology has detected what could be a win for both spotted owls and forest management, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and the University of Washington.
For 25 years, many forests in the western United States have been managed to protect habitat for endangered and threatened spotted owls. A central tenet of that management has been to promote and retain more than 70 percent of the forest canopy cover.
However, dense levels of canopy cover leave forests prone to wildfires and can lead to large tree mortality during droughts. Thus, the disconnect between two significant land management goals.
In the study, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, scientists found that cover in tall trees is the key habitat requirement for spotted owls — not total canopy cover. It indicated that spotted owls largely avoid cover created by stands of shorter trees. [Read more…]