EFFECTS OF LANDSCAPE CONFIGURATION METRICS ON AMERICAN BARN OWL (TYTO FURCATA) NEST BOX OCCUPANCY
|Samantha D Chavez; Humboldt State University; email@example.com; Jaime Carlino, Laura Echávez, Matthew Johnson|
Land managers in Napa Valley, CA place nest boxes in wine grape vineyards to attract barn owls who can provide valuable rodent pest control. Previous studies in this region found that barn owls prefer to occupy boxes made of wood, placed at least 3 meters above the ground, and with uncultivated habitat, such as grassland, nearby. However, landscape configuration can also strongly affect animals’ use of heterogeneous environments, but its role in shaping nest box occupancy has not yet been examined for barn owls. We examined whether there is a relationship between occupancy and several configuration metrics in the land surrounding boxes including: the edge density of different land cover classes, interspersion and juxtaposition index of the landscape, and mean patch sizes of different classes. Finally, we created a predictive map that uses relevant configurational and compositional metrics to provide farmers a visual representation of where boxes should be deployed to optimize the probability of a box being occupied.