Gray Hawk Expansion in the San Pedro River Valley: Diet, Habitat, and Landscape Change
AuthorLa Porte, Ariana
AdvisorMannan, Robert W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractGray hawks became established in the San Pedro River (SPR) valley in the mid-1900s following landscape changes that created habitat for them. The population of gray hawks along the SPR is at the northern edge of the species’ range, and its growth has been documented periodically since the 1970s. A study in the 1990s quantified gray hawk diet and habitat use in this area, and found that gray hawks hunt primarily in mesquite, eat mostly lizards, and that their productivity is positively correlated with the percentage of mesquite in their territories. The gray hawk population along the SPR has nearly doubled since the initial study was conducted, and pairs now nest in areas that contain little or no mesquite. Our main objectives were to determine whether: a) diet and habitat requirements have changed for gray hawks along the SPR since the population has as expanded, and b) productivity has declined as the population has expanded into habitats of potentially lower quality. We used nest cameras to document prey deliveries, and ESRI ArcGIS to quantify vegetation types within estimated home ranges of gray hawks. We compared productivity of gray hawk pairs in the 1990s and the 2010s, as well as the current productivity of pairs in territories that had been occupied by gray hawks in the 1990s (original territories) and those that only became occupied after the original study was completed (new territories). We found that that gray hawks used a wider variety of vegetation types, such as nest trees surrounded by grasslands, and consumed a wider variety of prey than they did in the 1990s, and that productivity remained constant over time. Like many populations at the edge of their range, the gray hawks that initially settled in the San Pedro River valley likely had access to only a portion of the resources that are common at the center of the species’ range, and therefore appeared to have a narrower set of diet and habitat requirements than the species as a whole. Areas that are currently being used by gray hawks for nesting (e.g., nest trees surrounded by grasslands) were likely unsuitable in the 1990’s because they were being used for agriculture and grazing. The two chapters of this thesis will be submitted to journals for publication and therefore contain overlapping information.
Degree ProgramGraduate College