Effects of post-fire logging on California spotted owl occupancy

Chad T. Hanson, Monica L. Bond, Derek E. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In fire-adapted forest ecosystems around the world, there has been growing concern about adverse impacts of post-fire logging on native biodiversity and ecological processes. This is also true in conifer forests of California, U.S.A. which are home to a rare and declining owl subspecies, the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis). While there has been recent concern about the California spotted owl occupancy in large fire areas where some territories have substantial high-severity fire effects, the influence of post-fire logging on the California spotted owl occupancy has been investigated very little, leading to some uncertainty about interpretation of conflicting results in different large fires. Research has found these owls preferentially select high-severity fire areas, characterised by high levels of snags and native shrubs, for foraging in forests that were not logged after fire, suggesting that removal of this foraging habitat might impact occupancy. The authors assessed the effect of post-fire logging and high-severity fire, on occupancy of this subspecies in eight large fire areas, within spotted owl sites with two different levels of high-severity fire effects. They found a significant adverse effect of such logging and no effect of high-severity fire alone. These results indicate it is post-fire logging, not large fires themselves, that poses a conservation threat to this imperilled species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalNature Conservation
StatePublished - Jan 18 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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