An adaptive management approach to recovering burrowing owl populations and restoring a grassland ecosystem in San Diego County, Project Report 2013

Type: report

Article abstract: We report on the third year's progress in a multi-year program with the goal of developing a model program to assist with the recovery of Western burrowing owls (BUOW; Athene cunicularia hypugaea) and their grassland ecosystem in San Diego County. Current BUOW management is dependent on continued human intervention and may not be self-sustaining. Because the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) is a keystone species that helps engineer California grassland ecosystems and provides critical resources for BUOW, re-establishment of this species is a crucial component of any sustainable recovery plan for BUOW and the larger ecosystem. Over time we plan to develop a set of protocols and strategies that can be adopted by managers in San Diego County and in other areas where BUOW conservation management is warranted. Our long-term goal is to assist in the establishment of a more natural grassland ecosystem in San Diego County by re-establishing ground squirrels and, ultimately BUOW. The work described here is the projection of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) and its partners, in particular, its research collaborators at San Diego State University. In 2013, we made progress towards three objectives: 1) use of translocation as a tool to establish California ground squirrels as ecosystem engineers, 2) developing methodology for monitoring natural squirrel dispersal into managed habitat at Rancho Jamul, 3) determining key habitat associations for California ground squirrels, and 4) monitoring BUOW population and nesting ecology in south San Diego County.

Year: 2013

Publisher: San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

Prepared by: San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research;

Species: Western burrowing owl


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File owner: San Diego Management and Monitoring Program
2013 ICR SDF BUOW Report - submitted uncompressed.pdf