As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Golden eagles may be more abundant in undeveloped, elevated landscapes

Model predicts golden eagle density across Western United States
Date: August 24, 2016
Source: PLOS

Golden eagles may be more abundant in elevated, undeveloped landscapes with high wind speeds, according to a study published August 24, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ryan Nielson from Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc., USA, and colleagues.

Better understanding of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) abundance and distribution across the developing western United States is needed to help identify and conserve their habitats in the face of anthropogenic threats. The authors of the present study monitored golden eagle abundance across four major Bird Conservation Regions, comprising ~2 million-km2, in the western United States. They used existing data from aerial surveys and distance sampling during late summer in 2006-2013. The authors then modelled counts of golden eagle observations based on land cover and other environmental factors.

The authors' model revealed the golden eagles were less abundant in developed and forested areas and more abundant in open, elevated areas with high wind speeds. They used this model to construct a map of predicted land use by golden eagles during late summer across the study area.

The authors speculate that golden eagles preferred elevated, open landscapes with high wind speeds since these factors may help them hunt for prey and fly more efficiently, whereas more developed and forested landscapes provided fewer foraging opportunities. While the golden eagles' habitat preferences may differ in other regions and seasons, the authors suggest that their map could help prioritize landscapes for conservation efforts and identify regions for additional research and monitoring.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Ryan M. Nielson, Robert K. Murphy, Brian A. Millsap, William H. Howe, Grant Gardner. Modeling Late-Summer Distribution of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the Western United States. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (8): e0159271 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159271

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