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A Fish Owl Conservation Plan for Primorye, Russia

ABSTRACT: We analyzed fish owl resource selection between 2006-2011 to assess the ability of the extant reserve network within a 20,213 square kilometer study area in Primorye, Russia. We identified regions with the highest predicted probability of use by owls; based on resource selection functions we predicted that 54 fish owl territories could occur within this study area. We found that the reserve network contained only 21% of primary fish owl habitat and contained only 7 potential fish owl territories. We also found that 39% of primary habitat was within current logging leases, which was capable of supporting habitat equivalent to 18 fish owl territories. The remainder of primary habitat (40%) was on federal land not presently protected or within logging leases, and potentially contained 29 fish owl territories. The current reserve network, by itself, will not be sufficient to conserve fish owls because so few owl territories are actually protected. Therefore, we developed specific conservation recommendations for unprotected federal forest lands based on observed resource selection patterns by owls. Our recommendations include protecting specific locations within potential territories that likely contain suitable nest and foraging sites, maintaining integrity of riparian areas, modifying road construction, and closing old logging roads to reduce human access. These simple measures have the potential not only to conserve fish owls but also many other species, making this owl an effective umbrella species for the riparian ecosystems of the region.

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