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Impacts of Agriculture on the Diet and Productivity of Mackinder's Eagle Owls (Bubo capensis mackinderi) in Kenya

Darcy L. Ogada and Paul M. Kibuthu
Biotropica
Vol. 41, No. 4 (Jul., 2009), pp. 485-492
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27742802
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Impacts of Agriculture on the Diet and Productivity of Mackinder's Eagle Owls (Bubo capensis mackinderi) in Kenya
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Abstract

Land conversion for agriculture is an increasing threat to biodiversity conservation, but its ecological effects on African birds is practically unknown. We investigated the impacts of agriculture on the diet and productivity of a small, disjunct population of Mackinder's eagle owls (Bubo capensis mackinderi) in central Kenya. Owl diet was determined by analysis of pellets and other remains and compared to small mammal populations estimated by live trapping in two habitats. Small mammal abundance was low and averaged 7.4 small mammals/ha in farms and 0.5 small mammals/ha in grassland. Owls consumed a wide diversity of prey. The majority were mammals (87%) followed by birds (7%) and insects (5%). The percentage of small mammals in owl diet correlated positively with the relative abundance of small mammals during monthly trapping sessions. Diet composition did not influence owl breeding success. Farming activities affected owl diet composition through crop production. The amount of maize, peas, and carrots growing in farms was correlated with the abundance of Mastomys sp. and Procavia sp. in the owl's diet. Agricultural activities had a large effect on Mackinder's eagle owl diet by increasing the abundance of certain small-mammal prey and attracting owl prey to farms, though farming practices harmful to owls were observed.

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