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Title: Northern goshawk habitat: an intersection of science, management, and conservation

Author: Reynolds, Richard T.; Graham, Russell T.; Boyce, Douglas A. Jr.;

Date: 2008

Source: Journal of Wildlife Management. 72(4): 1047-1055.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We responded to the claim by Greenwald et al. (2005) that the management recommendations for the northern goshawk in the Southwestern United States (MRNG; Reynolds et al. 1992), a food web-based conservation plan that incorporated both northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and multiple prey habitats, may be inadequate to protect goshawks. Greenwald et al. (2005) based this claim on their review of 12 telemetry studies of goshawk habitat selection and 5 nontelemetry studies of the effects of vegetation structure at the home range scale on goshawk nest occupancy and reproduction that appeared after the 1992 publication of the MRNG. Greenwald et al. (2005) summarized their review as showing that 1) goshawks were habitat specialists limited to forests with mature and old-growth structures including large trees, high canopy cover, multiple canopy layering, and abundant woody debris; 2) habitats were not selected on the basis of prey abundance and, therefore, managing for prey habitats diluted goshawk habitats; and 3) selection for openings, edges, and habitat diversity was inconclusive. Our review found that when the studies' respective authors pooled their radiotagged goshawks there were weak to strong selections for old forest structures. However, the studies also documented extensive variation in use of vegetation types and structures by individual goshawks; some avoided openings, edges, young forests, and old forests, whereas others selected for these characteristics. Additionally, by virtue of their wide geographic distribution, the studies showed that the focal populations themselves occurred in a variety of forest types, some with large structural differences. We found no evidence in Greenwald's et al. (2005) review that the MRNG are inadequate to protect goshawks. Rather, the studies reviewed by Greenwald et al. (2005), as well as many studies they missed, supported the MRNG. The suggestion of inadequacy by Greenwald et al. (2005) appeared rooted in misunderstandings of goshawk habitats described in the MRNG, a discounting of the extent of variation in vegetation structural and seral stages used by goshawks, a limited understanding of the extent to which prey limits goshawks, a failure to recognize the dynamic nature of forests, and an incomplete review of the literature. We believe the MRNG are adequate because they maximize the sustainable amount of mature and old forests in goshawk home ranges and specify the kinds and intermixtures of prey habitats within home ranges. Implementation of MRNG should reduce the likelihood that the availability of vegetation structures suited to goshawk nesting and foraging, as well as abundance and availability of prey, will limit goshawk nest occupancy and reproduction.

Keywords: Accipiter gentilis, conservation, forest management, habitat selection, home range, limiting factors, northern goshawk

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Reynolds, Richard T.; Graham, Russell T.; Boyce, Douglas A., Jr. 2008. Northern goshawk habitat: an intersection of science, management, and conservation. Journal of Wildlife Management. 72(4): 1047-1055.


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