Condor’s Top Cited, #3: Raven Expansion into Sagebrush Steppe

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The Idaho National Laboratory in southeastern Idaho, used as the study site for Common Raven resource selection during 2007–2009.

Continuing our series looking at our most cited papers from 2014 and 2015, this week we’re featuring a study from the February 2014 issue of The Condor: Selection of anthropogenic features and vegetation characteristics by nesting Common Ravens in the sagebrush ecosystem by K.B. Howe, P.S. Coates, and D.J. Delehanty.

Common Raven populations have been on the rise in Idaho’s sagebrush steppe habitat, which is a concern since ravens are nest predators of Greater Sage-Grouse. Howe and her colleagues located raven nests on the grounds of U.S. Department of Energy Idaho National Laboratory and analyzed how nests sites were related to anthropogenic features and vegetation types.

Ravens selected nest locations that were in close proximity to power transmission lines, in close proximity to land cover edges, and in areas that contained abundant edges between adjoining land cover types, suggesting the potential for further increases in raven populations in the region as development continues. Nesting on transmission poles may give hunting ravens an edge due to a better view of the surrounding landscape, easier take-off, and greater attack speed, as well as providing greater security from mammalian predators and range fires. Based on their results, the authors suggest that preventing fragmentation by transmission lines, roads, crested wheatgrass plantings, and the invasion of other nonnative vegetation could help stem the increase and range expansion of raven populations.

Read the full paper at http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/full/10.1650/CONDOR-13-115-R2.1.

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