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Predicting nesting habitat of Northern Goshawks in mixed aspen-lodgepole pine forests in a high-elevation shrub-steppe dominated landscape

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DOI: 10.4236/oje.2013.32013    3,512 Downloads   7,185 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

We developed a habitat suitability model for predicting nest locations of breeding Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) in the high-elevation mixed forest and shrub-steppe habitat of south-central Idaho, USA. We used elevation, slope, aspect, ruggedness, distance-to-water, canopy cover, and individual bands of Landsat imagery as predictors for known nest locations with logistic regression. We found goshawks prefer to nest in gently-sloping, east-facing, non-rugged areas of dense aspen and lodgepole pine forests with low reflectance in green (0.53 - 0.61 μm) wavelengths during the breeding season. We used the model results to classify our 43,169 hectare study area into nesting suitability categories: well suited (8.8%), marginally suited (5.1%), and poorly suited (86.1%). We evaluated our model’s performance by comparing the modeled results to a set of GPS locations of known nests (n = 15) that were not used to develop the model. Observed nest locations matched model results 93.3% of the time for well suited habitat and fell within poorly suited areas only 6.7% of the time. Our method improves on goshawk nesting models developed previously by others and may be applicable for surveying goshawks in adjacent mountain ranges across the northern Great Basin.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Miller, R. , Carlisle, J. , Bechard, M. and Santini, D. (2013) Predicting nesting habitat of Northern Goshawks in mixed aspen-lodgepole pine forests in a high-elevation shrub-steppe dominated landscape. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 109-115. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.32013.

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