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Ecology of the Mexican Spotted Owl

Status: 
Action
Dates: 
January, 1990

Mexican Spotted Owl
Mexican Spotted Owl
For more than 25 years, Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) scientists have been at the forefront of efforts to understand the ecology of the threatened Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida). Most of the existing scientific knowledge on the ecology of this owl was developed by RMRS scientists and their partners, and these scientists also have been actively engaged in transferring this knowledge to managers and assisting in management and recovery planning. Today, RMRS scientists continue to be actively involved in developing new knowledge on this owl, synthesizing existing information, and working with managers to integrate habitat requirements for the owl and its important prey species into land management plans.

Recovery planning

RMRS scientists have been engaged in Mexican spotted owl recovery efforts since before it was listed as a Threatened Species in 1993. RMRS scientists have conducted studies on the ecology, demography, and habitat requirements of this species since 1984. These scientists and their cooperators have produced most of the existing scientific information on this species. RMRS scientists also actively participated in recovery planning for this owl. William M. Block has served as the recovery team leader since 1993 and Joseph L. Ganey has served as a recovery team member over that same period. In addition, past employees James P. Ward, Jr. (Post-doctoral Research Associate) and Will Moir (Research Ecologist, retired) also served on the initial recovery team while employed by RMRS, and were key co-authors on the original Recovery Plan published in 1995.

Management recommendations from the Mexican Spotted Owl Recovery Plan were formally adopted by the Southwestern Region (Region 3) of the US Forest Service in 1996 through an amendment to the Land Management Plans for all eleven National Forests within the Region. These recommendations continue to guide management on National Forest lands in this Region today.

Block and Ganey continue to serve on the Recovery Team, which in 2012 produced a revision to the original Recovery Plan based on new scientific information developed since 1995. This revision was approved and signed by the Regional Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service, in September 2012, and its release is imminent. The revised plan aims to continue offering important protections to the owl and its habitat while improving flexibility for land managers.

Additional research efforts

  • Occupancy, reproduction, and landscape use by Mexican spotted owls in the Rodeo-Chediski Fire Area, Arizona, and nearby unburned areas.

  • Effects of fuel treatments on fire-risk and habitat suitability for the Mexican spotted owl.

  • Integration of habitat requirements of Mexican spotted owls with US Forest Service desired future conditions for mixed-conifer and pine-oak forests.

  • Effects of fuel treatments on fire-risk and habitat suitability for the Mexican spotted owl.

  • Demography and habitat use of Mexican spotted owls in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. For more information on this project see Ecology of Mexican spotted owls in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico

Publications

Ganey, Joseph L. ; Apprill, Darrell L. ; Rawlinson, Todd A. ; Kyle, Sean C. ; Jonnes, Ryan S. ; Ward, James P. Jr. , 2014
Ganey, Joseph L. ; White, Gary C. ; Ward, James P. Jr. ; Kyle, Sean C. ; Apprill, Darrell L. ; Rawlinson, Todd A. ; Jonnes, Ryan S. , 2014
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Kyle, Sean C. ; Rawlinson, Todd A. ; Apprill, Darrell L. ; Ward, James P Jr. , 2014
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Ward, James P. Jr ; Jenness, Jeffrey S. ; Block, William M. ; Hedwall, Shaula ; Jonnes, Ryan S. ; Apprill, Darrell L. ; Rawlinson, Todd A. ; Kyle, Sean C. ; Spangle, Steven L. , 2014
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Apprill, Darrell L. ; Rawlinson, Todd A. ; Kyle, Sean C. ; Jonnes, Ryan S. ; Ward, James P. Jr. , 2013
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Block, William M. ; Ward, James P. Jr. ; Strohmeyer, Brenda E. , 2005
Jenness, Jeffrey S. ; Beier, Paul ; Ganey, Joseph L. , 2004
Ganey, Joseph L. ; White, Gary C. ; Bowden, David C. ; Franklin, Alan B. , 2004
Bowden, David C. ; White, Gary C. ; Franklin, Alan B. ; Ganey, Joseph L. , 2003
Johnson, Charles L. ; Reynolds, Richard T. , 2002
Delaney, David K. ; Grubb, Teryl G. ; Beier, Paul , 1999
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Block, William M. ; Dwyer, Jill K. ; Strohmeyer, Brenda E. ; Jenness, Jeffrey S. , 1998
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Block, William M. ; Jenness, Jeffrey S. ; Wilson, Randolph A. , 1998
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Block, William M. ; Jenness, Jeffrey S. ; Wilson, Randolph A. , 1997
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Balda, Russell P. , 1994
Ganey, Joseph L. ; Balda, Russell P. ; King, Rudy M. , 1993

Other

Other publications (not in Treesearch)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2012. Final Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl, First Revision. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM, USA. 413 pp.

Block, W. M.; Russell, R. E.; Ganey, J. L.. 2011. Occupancy and habitat associations of four species of sciurids in northern Arizona ponderosa pine – Gambel oak forest. The Southwestern Naturalist 56:193-203.

Mullet, T. C.; Ward, J. P., Jr.  2010.  Microhabitat features at Mexican spotted owl nest and roost sites in the Guadalupe Mountains.  Journal of Raptor Research 44:277-285.

Stacey, P. B. 2010. Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis). Pp. 597-621 in Cartron, J.L. E. Raptors of New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. 710 pp.

Prather, J. W.; Noss, R. F.; Sisk, T. D. 2008. Real versus perceived conflicts between restoration of ponderosa pine forests and conservation of the Mexican spotted owl. Forest Policy and Economics 10:140-150.

Bowden, T. S. 2008. Mexican spotted owl reproduction, home range, and habitat associations in Grand Canyon National Park. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 87pp.

Barrowclough, G. F.; Groth, J. G.; Mertz, L. A.; Gutiérrez, R. J. 2006. Genetic structure of Mexican spotted owl populations in a fragmented landscape. Auk 123:1090-1102.

Lavier, R. A. 2006. Effects of weather and habitat on site occupancy of Mexican spotted owls in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. Thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

Block, W. M.; Ganey, J. L.; Scott, P. E.; King, R. M. 2005. Prey ecology of the Mexican spotted owl in ponderosa pine-Gambel oak forests of northern Arizona. Journal of Wildlife Management 69:618-629.

May, C. A.; Petersburg, M. L.; Gutiérrez, R. J. 2004. Mexican spotted owl nest- and roost-site habitat in northern Arizona. Journal of Wildlife Management 68:1054-1064.

Willey, D. W.; Ward, R. V. 2004. Mexican spotted owl distribution and habitat within Grand Canyon National Park. Pp 328-334 in: Harmon, D.; Kilgore, B. M.; and Vietzke, G. E., eds. Protecting Our Diverse Heritage: The Role of Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Proceedings of the 2003 George Wright Society/National Park Service Joint Conference. Hancock, MI: The George Wright Society.

Bond, M. L.; Gutiérrez, R. J.; Franklin, A. B.; LaHaye, W. S.; May, C. A.; Seamans, M. E. 2002. Short-term effects of wildfires on spotted owl survival, site fidelity, and mate fidelity. Wildlife Society Bulletin 30:1022-1028.

May, C. A.; Gutiérrez, R. J. 2002. Habitat associations of Mexican spotted owl nest and roost sites in central Arizona. Wilson Bulletin 114:457-466.

Seamans, M. E.; Gutiérrez, R. J.; May, C. A. 2002. Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) population dynamics: Influence of climatic variation on survival and reproduction. Auk 119:321-334.

Ward, J. P., Jr.; Salas, D. 2000. Adequacy of roost locations for defining buffers around Mexican spotted owl nests. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28: 688-698.

Peery, M. Z.; Gutiérrez, R. J.; Seamans, M. E. 1999. Habitat composition and configuration around Mexican spotted owl nest and roost sites in the Tularosa Mountains, New Mexico. Journal of Wildlife Management 63:36-43.

Seamans, M. E.; Gutiérrez, R. J. 1999. Diet composition and reproductive success of Mexican spotted owls. Journal of Raptor Research 33:143-148.

White, G. C.; Block, W. M.; Ganey, J. L.; Moir, W. H.; Ward, J. P., Jr.; Franklin, A. B.; Spangle, S. L.; Rinkevich, S. E.; Vahle, J. R.; Howe, F. P.; Dick, J. L., Jr. 1999. Science versus political reality in delisting criteria for a threatened species: The Mexican spotted owl experience. Transactions North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 64: 292-306.

Delaney, D. K.; Grubb, T. G.; Beier, P.; Pater, L. L.; Reiser, M. H. 1999. Effects of helicopter noise on Mexican spotted owls. Journal of Wildlife Management 63:60-76.

Seamans, M. E.; Gutiérrez, R. J.; May, C. A.; Perry, M. Z. 1999. Demography of two Mexican spotted owl populations. Conservation Biology 13:744-754.

Sureda, M.; Morrison, M. L. 1999. Habitat characteristics of small mammals in southeastern Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 59:323-330.

Sureda, M.; Morrison, M. L. 1998. Habitat use by small mammals in southeastern Utah, with reference to Mexican spotted owl management. Great Basin Naturalist 58:76-81.

Grubb, T. G.; Ganey, J. L.; Masek, S. R. 1997. Canopy closure around nest sites of Mexican spotted owls in northcentral Arizona. Journal of Wildlife Management 61:336-342.

Johnson, C. L. 1997. Distribution, habitat, and ecology of the Mexican spotted owl in Colorado. Thesis, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

Kuntz, W. A.; Stacey, P. B. 1997. Preliminary investigation of vocal variation in the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida): Would vocal analysis of the four-note location call be a useful field tool for individual identification?  Pp 562-568 in Duncan, J. R.; Johnson, D. H.; Nicholls, T. H., eds. Biology and Conservation of Owls of the Northern Hemisphere. General Technical Report NC-GTR-190. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station.

Gutiérrez, R. J.; Seamans, M. E.; Peery, M. Z. 1996. Intermountain movement by Mexican spotted owls (Strix occidentalis lucida). Great Basin Naturalist 56:87-89.

Hodgson, A. 1996. Dispersal and habitat use of Mexican spotted owls in New Mexico. Thesis, University of Nevada, Reno, NV.

Block, W. M.; Clemente, F.; Cully, J. F.; Dick, J. L., Jr.; Franklin, A. B.; Ganey, J. L.; Howe, F. P.; Moir, W. H.; Spangle, S. L.; Rinkevich, S. E.; Urban, D. L.; Ward, J. P., Jr.; White, G. C.; Vahle, R. 1995. Recovery plan for the Mexican spotted owl. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Ganey, J. L.; Dick, J. A. 1995. Habitat relationships of Mexican spotted owls: Current knowledge. Chapter 4:1-42 in: USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Moir, W. H.; Dick, J. L., Jr.; Block, W. M.; Ward, J. P. Jr.; Vahle, R.; Howe, F. P.; and Ganey, J. L. 1995. Conceptual framework for recovery. Pp. 59-75 in: Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Seamans, M. E.; Gutiérrez, R. J. 1995. Breeding habitat ecology of the Mexican spotted owl in the Tularosa Mountains, New Mexico. Condor 97:944-952.

Rinkevich, S. E.; Ganey, J. L., Ward, J. P., Jr.; White, G. C.; Urban, D. L.; Franklin, A. B.; Block, W. M.; Clemente, F. 1995. General biology and ecological relationships of the Mexican spotted owl.  Pp. 19-35 in: Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Ward, J. P., Jr.; Block, W. M. 1995. Mexican spotted owl prey ecology. Chapter 5 in: Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Ward, J. P., Jr.; Franklin, A. B.; Rinkevich, S. E.; Clemente, F. 1995. Distribution and abundance of Mexican spotted owls. Chapter 1 in: Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

White, G. C.; Franklin, A. B.; Ward, J. P., Jr. 1995. Population biology. Chapter 2 in: Recovery Plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), Vol. II - Technical Supporting Information. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Albuquerque, NM.

Ganey, J. L.; Duncan, R. B.; Block, W. M. 1992. Use of oak and associated woodlands by Mexican spotted owls in Arizona. Pp. 125-128 in: Ffolliott, P. F.; Gottfried, G. J.; Bennett, D. A.; Hernandez, V. M.; Ortega-Rubio, A.; Hamre, R. H., eds. Ecology and Management of Oak and Associated Woodlands. General Technical Report RM-GTR-218. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station.

Ganey, J. L.; Alderson, M. E.; Balda, R. P.; Patton, D. R. 1990. Developing a large-scale model for Mexican spotted owl habitat. Pp. 182-190 in: Krausman, P. R.; Smith, N. S., eds. Managing Wildlife in the Southwest. The Wildlife Society, Arizona Chapter, Phoenix, AZ.



Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Co-Investigators:
Collaborators:
G.C. White - Colorado State University
Tonto National Forest
US.. Forest Service Southwestern Region
Paul Beier - Northern Arizona University
Mike Lommler - Northern Arizona University
Serra Hoagland - Northern Arizona University
Kevin McGarigal - University of Minnesota
Brad Timm - University of Minnesota
Dave Wiley - University of Montana
J. P. Ward Jr. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ralph J. Gutierrez - University of Minnesota
S. Hedwall - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
S. Spangle - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Cibola National Forest
Jeff Jenness - Jenness Enterprises
Coconino National Forest
Todd Rawlinson - Lincoln National Forest Service
Coronado National Forest
Darrell Apprill - Lincoln National Forest Service
Gila National Forest
Sean Kyle - Western Association Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Kaibab National Forest
Ryan Jonnes - Western Association Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Prescott National Forest

Research Staff:
Funding Contributors:
Rocky Mountain Research Station
U.S. Forest Service Southwestern Region
U.S. Forest Service Washington Office
U.S. Forest Service Lincoln National Forest