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Title: Post-fledging survival of Northern Goshawks: the importance of prey abundance, weather, and dispersal

Author: Wiens, J. David; Noon, Barry R.; Reynolds, Richard T.;

Date: 2006

Source: Ecological applications. 16(1): 406-418

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Effective wildlife conservation strategies require an understanding of how fluctuating environmental conditions affect sensitive life stages. As part of a long-term study, we examined post-fledging and post-independence survival of 89 radio-marked juvenile Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) produced from 48 nests in northern Arizona, USA, during 1998–2001. Information-theoretic methods were used to examine within- and among-year variation in survival relative to environmental (prey abundance, weather), territory (hatching date, brood size), and individual (gender, body mass) sources of variation. The results support age- and cohort-specific differences in survival that were best explained by behaviors occurring at distinct stages of juvenile development, annual changes in the density of primary bird and mammal prey species, and gender-related differences in body mass. Survival between fledging and independence increased linearly with age and varied among annual cohorts of radio-marked juveniles from 0.81 95% CI = 0.60–0.93) to 1.00 (95% CI = 0.95–1.00) in association with annual differences in prey density; the slope coefficient for the additive effect of prey density on survival was 1.12 (95% CI = 0.06–2.19). Survival declined to 0.71 (95% CI = 0.60–0.93) shortly after juveniles initiated dispersal (weeks 8–12 post-fledging) and moved to more open habitats at lower elevations. Survival was not closely associated with weather or territory-level parameters. A comparison of the predictions of environmental-, territory-, and individual-based models of survival demonstrated that food availability was the primary factor limiting juvenile survival. This finding indicates that forest management prescriptions designed to support abundant prey populations while providing forest structural conditions that allow goshawks to access their prey within breeding areas should benefit juvenile survival.

Keywords: Accipiter gentilis, Arizona, dispersal, distance sampling, juvenile survival, known-fate models, Northern Goshawk, prey abundance, radiotelemetry, weather

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Wiens, J. David; Noon, Barry R.; Reynolds, Richard T. 2006. Post-fledging survival of Northern Goshawks: the importance of prey abundance, weather, and dispersal. Ecological applications. 16(1): 406-418


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