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Barn owl nest boxes offer no solution to pocker gopher damage

  • Author(s): Marsh, Rex E.
  • et al.
Abstract

The belief that native predators such as barn owls (Tyto alba) keep native rodents such as pocket gophers (Thomomys spp.) in check has a long history, in spite of a lack of evidence that such predators play any role in lowering pest rodent populations to the extent that their pest status is measurably influenced. Attempts to artificially increase native predators such as barn owls in the hope of increasing predation on native pest rodents is not new and has been explored many times in the past, but as yet evidence of success is absent. Since predation is a slow ongoing process, two biological principles work to nullify any negative effect on populations of rodents with high reproductive propensities. The belief that predators somehow control their prey is challenged as a biological control approach, and proven gopher management methods offered in its place.

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