José Tomás Ibarra
Ph.D. student, University of British Columbia
Research: The Rufous-legged owl in the temperate rainforests of Chile: Habitat occupancy, conservation and its reliability as an indicator of biodiversity for sustainable forest management
Species/Topic: Rufous-legged owl
Abstract: Temperate forests are one of the biomes most impacted by human development. A number of species are linked to old-growth forests and declining because of habitat loss. The effects of habitat degradation on the forest-specialist Rufous-legged owl (Strix rufipes) and associated co-inhabitant species are poorly known. This project aims to deepen our understanding of the ecology and conservation status of the Rufous-legged owl in these changing habitats, and to evaluate its role as a biodiversity indicator. For the latter, we will assess the broad co-occurring avian assemblages. As indicators, Rufous-legged owls may be an efficient tool for sustainable forest management because of their potential association with other species: e.g.,woodpeckers, tapaculos and other raptors. This project has an important outreach component, informing stakeholders (Environmental Ministry, landholders, BirdLife, IUCN) about conservation issues and appropriate responses in temperate forests.