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Data from: Barn Owls select uncultivated habitats for hunting in a winegrape growing region of California

Citation

Johnson, Matt (2021), Data from: Barn Owls select uncultivated habitats for hunting in a winegrape growing region of California, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mpg4f4qx0

Abstract

Large-scale conversion of uncultivated land to agriculture threatens wildlife and can diminish ecosystem services provided by nature. Understanding how wildlife provision ecosystem services may incentivize wildlife conservation in agricultural landscapes. Attracting Barn Owls (Tyto furcata) to nest on farms for pest management has been implemented worldwide, but has not been evaluated in vineyard agroecosystems. Napa Valley, California is a renowned winegrape growing region, and viticulturists encourage Barn Owl occupancy to help minimize damage from Botta’s pocket gophers (Thomomys bottae) and voles (Microtus spp.). This study modeled the use of habitats in space and time by hunting Barn Owls, providing information about their potential to provide the critical ecosystem service of pest consumption. We used global positioning system tags to track hunting owls, and used a resource selection function to compare used and available habitats.  We constructed intensity
of use and home range-movement maps using a Time Local Convex Hull (t-LoCoH) analysis from location data. We found that Barn Owls selected uncultivated habitats when hunting, some of which were relatively rare on the landscape. Approximately one third of Barn Owl hunting locations occurred in vineyards, but this use was out of proportion to the availability of vineyards, which comprised 50% of the area around nest boxes.  The owls’ use of vineyards increased with decreasing amount of selected uncultivated habitat in the landscape. However, as reported by a previous study, occupancy of nest boxes in vineyards increases with uncultivated habitats nearby. Future research should model landscape composition to determine the amount of preferred habitat necessary to support occupancy as well as hunting in vineyards. A true test of pest management by Barn Owls awaits experimentation coupled with monitoring rodent populations.

Usage Notes

These data include the used (GPS tag locations) and available (random locations within each brds homerange) for 11 Barn Owls hunting nesting in wooden nest boxes winegrape vineyards of Napa Valley, CA, 2016-2017.