To determine the potential effect of habitat disturbance, Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) diets were quantified in disturbed and undisturbed habitats over a 2-year period at Dugway Proving Ground in the Great Basin Desert of Tooele County, Utah. Invertebrates were the most abundant prey by count, whereas mammals constituted the majority of diet by biomass. Species richness in the diet did not differ between habitats or among seasons after correcting for the number of pellets in each sample. However, the number of vertebrate species was greater than the number of invertebrate species in the diet, and this ratio differed between disturbed and undisturbed habitats. Invertebrate species made up a greater proportion of total species richness in the diet in the undisturbed than the disturbed habitat. Nineteen species occurred in the diet in only 1 of the 2 habitat types (7 unique species in disturbed habitat, 12 unique species in undisturbed), but all such species were rare and contributed little both by count and biomass to the overall diet. Of the 20 most important species found in owl diets in both habitats (based on percent biomass), none were more common in 1 habitat than the other after correcting for multiple tests. Although there were minor differences in the diet between disturbed and undisturbed habitats, habitat alteration and degradation of native vegetation on Dugway Proving Ground did not affect the major components of the diet of Great Horned Owls.
Kremer, Shelly R. and Belk, Mark C.
"Effects of habitat disturbance on diets of Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) in a cold desert,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 63
, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol63/iss1/7