Goshawk as a bioindicator species for climate change in the boreal forest

Theme 1. Environmental protection
Session Name 1.9 Climate change, forests and other ecosystems health in the Arctic region
Datetime Sep 07, 2018 09:30 AM - 09:45 AM (UTC +3)
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Nate Bickford (University of Nebraska Kearney, USA), Marilyn Wright (Utah State University, USA)
Abstract text

Amplified weather variation can be fatal to goshawks as well as their prey, having a cascading effect through trophic levels. Understanding effects of climate change in the boreal forest would be facilitated by examining the changing distribution of a generalist predator that requires specific nesting habitat, the Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis. Goshawks are a circumpolar species inhabiting boreal forest.  Goshawks are an ideal species to detect broad effects of habitat change or loss on biodiversity because they are a top-tier predator and depend on birds and a variety of small mammal populations for food. In addition, they require specific nesting habitats within contiguous forest. For this project we have characteristics of nesting habitat, prey consumption, survivorship, and nest-site recurrence, which will inform a comprehensive model of the essentials for this species to fulfill its life history. This allows for a dynamic management plan and models for habitat analysis that will help us understand the effects of climate change on goshawks and the forest ecosystem as a whole. These top tier predators are important because they serve as a bio-indicator of ecosystem health since they are sensitive to changes in the lower trophic levels of the forest and climate change.

Consequently, we need a mechanism to predict future impacts of climate change. The goshawk is likely a species that will help indicate some of the changes because of its position within the boreal forest’s web of life.

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