Graduation Date

Summer 2018

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Jeffrey Black

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. William Bean

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Matthew Johnson

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



The rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis) is one of the most under-studied raptor species in North America. As a species that exhibits reversed sexual dimorphism, sex-specific habitat preferences may exist. To investigate rough-legged hawk sex-specific habitat selection preferences, we equipped 17 rough-legged hawks (n = eight females, nine males) with GPS backpacks on their wintering grounds (n = six study areas) during the winter months of 2014 and 2015 in five states in western North America. I analyzed rough-legged hawk habitat selection in relation to sex at four spatial scales: nocturnal roosting site, 50% core range, 95% winter range, and 200% ecoregion range. Habitat selection variables included land cover, patch size, terrain ruggedness, indicators of anthropogenic disturbance, and measures of interspecific competition. Species and sex-specific preferences existed at each spatial scale, suggesting that hawks balanced competition for roosting and foraging habitat against prey availability and anthropogenic sources of disturbance when selecting habitat. At each spatial scale, female hawks preferentially selected for high quality habitat, while male rough-legged hawks used high as well as lower quality habitat (qualified by the presence of perching structures, human disturbance, and prey catchability). I posit that reversed sexual dimorphism in rough-legged hawks leads to social dominance of female hawks on their wintering grounds and that females may outcompete males for higher quality foraging habitat.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management

Included in

Ornithology Commons


Thesis/Project Location