Yosemite is the last sanctuary of California’s great gray owl, among the rarest and most threatened bird species in California. As a keystone predator, the great gray owl is a vital part of the meadow ecosystem. However, genetic analysis has shown that the Yosemite population is a unique subspecies particularly vulnerable to habitat and human-related threats.
Past research, funded in part by Yosemite Conservancy, gathered vital information about great gray owl demographics and geographic distribution and concluded that a sound conservation plan is essential to protecting this rare Yosemite species.
Current research will incorporate a science-based conservation program using non-invasive soundscape recordings to locate owl nests and identify potential disturbances in the surrounding vicinity. Once nest locations are identified, buffers will be established to reduce the impact of human activities on owl populations. Another component of the program will involve genetically analyzing molted feathers to determine survivorship rates and population declines. This combination of techniques is key to protecting and managing Yosemite’s great gray owl population.
By taking a proactive, non-invasive approach, together we are building a conservation program to protect this magnificent species for future generations.
Partnering with Yosemite National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.C. Davis, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.