Wildlife Conservation: Huge owls need huge trees

Sometimes news about wildlife and habitat isn't surprising, but worth resposting anyhow, for its own sake, just as species are worth saving for their own sake.

Here's an example, a news release today from the Wildlife Conservation Society:

A study spearheaded by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Minnesota has shown that the world's largest owl — and one of the rarest — is also a key indicator of the health of some of the last great primary forests of Russia's Far East.

The study found that Blakiston's fish owl relies on old-growth forests along streams for both breeding and to support healthy populations of their favorite prey: salmon. The large trees provide breeding cavities for the enormous bird, which has a two-meter (six-foot) wingspan. And when these dead, massive trees topple into adjacent streams, they disrupt water flow, forcing the gushing river around, over, and under these new obstacles. The result is stream channel complexity: a combination of deep, slow-moving backwaters and shallow, fast-moving channels that provide important microhabitats critical to salmon in different developmental stages.

[snip]

"Blakiston's fish owl is a clear indicator of the health of the forests, rivers, and salmon populations," said lead author Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Retention of habitat for fish owls will also maintain habitat for many other species associated with riparian old-growth forests in the Russian Far East."

Partly it's worth posting for this wonderful pic of the researcher Slaught and a Blakiston fish owl. 

Blakistonfishowl

Via a conservation site, White Wolf Pack.

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