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Title: California spotted owl: scientific considerations for forest planning

Author: Keane, John J.;

Date: 2014

Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-247. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 437-467. Chap. 7.2

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: California spotted owls (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) (fig. 1) have been at the forefront of Sierra Nevada management and conservation debates for 25 years because of their strong habitat associations with commercially valuable large trees, snags, and late-successional forests. Initial concerns focused on the effects of timber harvest on large trees and late-successional habitat and potential risks to California spotted owl population viability. In recent years, the debate over Sierra Nevada forest management and California spotted owls has broadened with growing recognition that past management practices, specifically timber harvest and fire suppression, have fundamentally changed forest structure, composition, and function over the last 100 years (North et al. 2009). Removal of fire as a primary natural disturbance process, coupled with reductions in large trees and late-successional forests through timber harvest, has resulted in contemporary Sierra Nevada forests that are generally more homogenous at multiple spatial scales, have higher densities of shade-tolerant tree species and reduced numbers of large trees, and are at greater risk of high-severity wildfire compared to their historical counterparts.

Keywords: ecological restoration, socioecological systems, ecosystem resilience, forest planning, fire management, altered fire regimes, wildfire, climate change, anthropogenic disturbance, invasive species, water resources, species of conservation concern, California

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.



Keane, J.J. 2014. California spotted owl: scientific considerations for forest planning. In: Long, J.W.; Quinn-Davidson, L.; Skinner, C.N., eds. Science synthesis to support socioecological resilience in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-247. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 437-467. Chap. 7.2.


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