Effects of experimental food supplementation on movements of juvenile northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus).

TitleEffects of experimental food supplementation on movements of juvenile northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsKennedy, PL, Ward, JM
Date Published2003 Jan
KeywordsAnimals, Diet, Female, Food, Male, Movement, Population Dynamics, Raptors, Seasons

Food availability is thought to strongly influence the leaving phase of natal dispersal in animals with condition-dependent dispersal. We conducted a food supplementation experiment to determine the influence of extra food on the onset of dispersal and early dispersal movement patterns of 42 radio-tagged northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus) from 28 broods in north-central New Mexico during 1992 and 1993. We randomly assigned half of the broods each year as treatments and the other half as controls. Treatment broods were given supplemental food from hatching (late April) until mid-October. Control broods received the same visitation rate but no food. Birds were located approximately every 2 days from fledging until mid-October in 1992 and 1993. Timing of fledging and independence were not affected by the treatment. However, extra food significantly influenced post-fledging movements of juvenile goshawks. During the late fledgling-dependency period (>65 days of age until independence) control birds were located in the natal area (<2 km from nest tree) more frequently than supplemented birds. This pattern reversed after independence (approximately 82 days of age) when supplemented birds were located more frequently in the natal area than controls. After independence the control birds were never located in the natal area and by the end of September in both years the controls had all left the study area (study area boundaries were approximately 25 km from nest tree). Supplemented birds were never located outside of the study area for the duration of the experiment. We conclude that the control birds dispersed out of the study area and the supplemented birds remained. Since the experimentally fed juveniles remained near a known food source and the controls did not, our study demonstrates that food availability influences at least the first 4 months of post-fledging movement patterns in this population. These results also suggest individuals base dispersal decisions on knowledge of their environment at a local scale, which can influence juvenile recruitment.

Alternate JournalOecologia
PubMed ID12647170