Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) recovery strategy: chapter 20

17. Potential Impacts of the Recovery Strategy on Other Species and Ecological Processes

Conservation of habitat for Spotted Owls will benefit a multitude of vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant species that use mature and old and late successional coniferous forests. One obvious example is deer that use such forests for winter range.

Harper and Milliken (1994) concluded there were approximately 71 species of vertebrates closely associated with late-successional and old forests within the range of the Spotted Owl in Canada (4 amphibians, 34 birds, 17 mammals, and 16 fish). Of these vertebrates, 18 are considered at-risk, either provincially or nationally, in 2003 by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre (Leah Ramsay, pers. comm.). In addition, the CDC has identified seven plant species in this habitat in this area to be at-risk (Jenifer Penny, pers. comm.). Furthermore, on a broader scale, Harper and Milliken (1994) list a total of 76 bird species and 138 invertebrates that are known to use older forests within the Spotted Owl’s range for some part of their life requisites.

The large landscapes required to manage and conserve populations of Spotted Owls lend themselves to application of ecosystem-based approaches to forest management. The restoration and conservation of habitat for Spotted Owls will help maintain functioning late-successional forest ecosystems, and help regulate water and nutrient cycles. Strategies to conserve Spotted Owls will need to address the natural ecological processes of different ecosystems and insure that these processes are not artificially changed to unstable conditions that threaten their ecosystem function.

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