In Its Southern Edge of Distribution, the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) Is More Sensitive to Extreme Temperatures Than to Rural Development

Orr Comay, Efrayim Ezov, Yoram Yom-Tov, Tamar Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Populations at the warm edge of distribution are more genetically diverse, and at the same time are more susceptible to climate change. Between 1987–1996, we studied Tawny Owls in Israel, the species’ global southern edge of distribution and a country undergoing a rapid land cover transformation for over a century. To assess the potential impacts of land cover transformation, we modelled the species’ most suitable habitat and climate and analyzed how climate and habitat affected the nesting success and prey selection. Moreover, we monitored Tawny Owl juveniles’ survival and ontogeny from eggs to dietary independent young, to find out whether the Israeli population is a sink. While the species distribution model correctly predicted the Tawny Owl’s densest areas of occurrence, it failed to predict its occurrence in adjacent regions. The model also predicted that areas included in the species’ historical range remained suitable habitats. The number of fledglings increased with precipitation and in rural settings but was adversely affected by extreme temperatures. While voles dominated the diet in all habitats, the Tawny Owl’s diet is considerably more variable than other Israeli owls. Our results suggest that the Tawny Owl can adapt to rural-agricultural environments, but is susceptible to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number641
JournalAnimals
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Climate impacts
  • Diet
  • Edge of distribution
  • Israel
  • Nesting
  • Ontogeny
  • Species distribution

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