Experimental habitat restoration for conserved species using ecosystem engineers and vegetation management
S. McCullough Hennessy, D. H. Deutschman, D. M. Shier, L. A. Nordstrom, C. Lenihan, J.-P. Montagne, C. L. Wisinski and R. R. Swaisgood
Version of Record online: 1 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12266
We experimentally address the potential for managing ecosystem engineer species to support suites of other species in degraded habitats, which could provide conservation managers with a cost-effective tool for restoring degraded habitats for species of conservation concern, in this case the western burrowing owl Athene cunicularia hypugaea. Using the ecosystem engineer, California ground squirrel Otospermophilus beecheyi, we implemented short-term treatments, including vegetation management and squirrel translocation, to re-establish key ecological processes on protected reserve lands in a replicated, large-scale field experiment. We found significant additive effects of squirrel translocation and vegetation management on the spatial footprint of squirrel activity, and noteworthy and persistent engineering effects were achieved by the end of the 3-year experimental period.