Common raven occurrence in relation to energy transmission line corridors transiting human-altered sagebrush steppe

Journal of Arid Environments
By: , and 

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Abstract

Energy-related infrastructure and other human enterprises within sagebrush steppe of the American West often results in changes that promote common raven (Corvus corax; hereafter, raven) populations. Ravens, a generalist predator capable of behavioral innovation, present a threat to many species of conservation concern. We evaluate the effects of detailed features of an altered landscape on the probability of raven occurrence using extensive raven survey (n= 1045) and mapping data from southern Idaho, USA. We found nonlinear relationships between raven occurrence and distances to transmission lines, roads, and facilities. Most importantly, raven occurrence was greater with presence of transmission lines up to 2.2 km from the corridor.We further explain variation in raven occurrence along anthropogenic features based on the amount of non-native vegetation and cover type edge, such that ravens select fragmented sagebrush stands with patchy, exotic vegetative introgression. Raven occurrence also increased with greater length of edge formed by the contact of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate spp.) with non-native vegetation cover types. In consideration of increasing alteration of sagebrush steppe, these findings will be useful for planning energy transmission corridor placement and other management activities where conservation of sagebrush obligate species is a priority.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Common raven occurrence in relation to energy transmission line corridors transiting human-altered sagebrush steppe
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2014.08.004
Volume 111
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 68
Last page 78
Country United States
State Idaho