|•||Habitat Dynamics and Function|
|•||Species at Risk Recovery Planning|
|•||Ecological Risk Assessments|
|•||Climate Change and Biodiversity|
Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Planning
Recovery planners require methods of projecting the dynamics of habitat change, management activities, and assessing the effects of different management policies on the population. For the Northern Spotted Owl in Canada, the solution was to develop spatially-explicit models that combined forest dynamics and management models with habitat and population models to facilitate development of Habitat Action and Recovery Plans.
Services: In collaboration with the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team (CSORT) and Gowlland Technologies Ltd., Cortex biologists and analysts developed a regional, strategic, spatio-temporal suite of models that link forest management and disturbances with habitat, territory and dispersal models as well as individual-based population models for the Northern Spotted Owl. The spatial and temporal indicators of socio-economic and ecological impact needed for decision analysis for this and other species at risk are output in a form that allows other post-processing tools to use them for making more detailed assessments of habitat and population recovery options.
During development of the models, Cortex worked closely with biologists and stakeholders to ensure the model and associated scenarios were focused on the central ecological issues and management questions determining the course of the recovery planning. Cortex extensively tested this suite of models, and we continue to expand model components as new questions emerge.
This model framework (figure above) can be generalized and parameterized for other forest-dependent species.
Outcomes: The models assisted CSORT to: (1) identify critical habitat; (2) determine the feasibility of population recovery targets; and (3) assess the conservation utility of alternative habitat management options (e.g., distribution of habitat over the species range in Canada).
Recently, Cortex has extended this modeling framework to assist stakeholder groups in (1) understanding how climate change could affect implementation of habitat and population recovery options; (2) testing alternative mechanisms for Barred Owl competition with Spotted Owls.