Burrowing Owl Monitoring and Adaptive Management

Our objective was to implement short-term treatments, including squirrel translocation, to re-establish key ecological processes on protected reserve lands. We manipulated vegetation and squirrels in a replicated, large-scale field experiment for two years, and monitored through a minimum of three years. Vegetation mowing and soil decompaction treatments reduced grass density and thatch depth. Squirrel translocation accelerated squirrel settlement and activity in target sites. Of the more than 1000 burrow entrances remaining through the third year, nearly all burrows were concentrated in the plots that received squirrel translocation. Noteworthy and persistent engineering effects were achieved through squirrel activity, and both vegetation management and squirrel re-establishment were needed to stimulate squirrel activity. The overarching goal of this experiment was to provide conservation managers with a cost-effective tool for restoring degraded habitats to a hybrid ecosystem state with improved suitability for species of conservation concern, in this case western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea).

General Management
Vertebrate Species
Project Focus

Western burrowing owl

Douglas Deutschman

San Diego State University

Sarah McCullough Hennessy

Annabelle Bernabe

Yvonne C. Moore

Sarah McCullough Hennessy

Project Protocol
Strategic Elements
  • pre FY15-1 - 5
Project Location
San Diego
South-central, South-west