Northern Spotted Owl

Katie Dugger, Nathan Schumaker, Damon Lesmeister, Ryan Baumbusch, Leila Duchac, Ashlee Mikkelson

Latin name: Strix occidentalis caurina

The Northern Spotted Owl is a federally threatened subspecies, and the source of serious controversy over the use of Federal forest resources in the Pacific Northwest.  The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was implemented in 1994 to provide a holistic management approach across all Federal lands that balanced the need for timber with the conservation of late-successional old growth ecosystems and the species that comprise them.  To evaluate the success of the NWFP, a monitoring program was implemented for several late-successional old growth dependent species, including the Northern Spotted Owl.  This monitoring program for spotted owls includes data collected on survival, productivity and rates of population change for study areas comprised largely of Federal land and regular data analysis, evaluation, and dissemination of results is an integral component of the monitoring program (e.g., Anthony et al. 2006, Forsman et al. 2011, Dugger et al. 2016).  The monographs resulting from previous major synthesis efforts in 2004, 2009, 2014 (Anthony et al. 2006, Forsman et al. 2011, Dugger et al. 2016) have been invaluable in the ongoing efforts to manage and conserve the Northern Spotted Owl. These documents have been particularly important to the development of the Final Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl, the revision to this plan released in 2011, the proposed Critical Habitat rule, and the draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Barred Owl removal experiment proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

In addition to providing information on the status and trends of spotted owl populations, these data continue to provide a unique opportunity to continue to explore the factors that affect spotted owl vital rates, including increasing densities of the invasive Barred Owl.  We are using sophisticated analytical approaches and longitudinal data sets from 6 study areas in Oregon and Washington to address emerging questions in ecology and population demography and provide land managers and policy-makers with the information they need to conserve and recover this species.  To date, a total of >70 peer-reviewed publications and >100 reports associated with data collected on these 6 study areas have been produced.

More information


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. xvi + 258 pp.

Transient dynamics of invasive competition: Barred Owls, Spotted Owls, habitat, and the demons of competition present

The effects of habitat, climate, and Barred Owls on long-term demography of Northern Spotted Owls

Mapping sources, sinks, and connectivity using a simulation model of northern spotted owls