Graduation Date

Summer 2023

Document Type



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

Committee Chair Name

Matthew Johnson

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Micaela Szykman Gunther

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Ho Yi Wan

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Ecosystem services, Barn owls, Occupancy, Spatial ecology, Landscape configuration, Landscape composition, Hunting selection function

Subject Categories



Harnessing ecosystem services, broadly defined as the benefits nature gives to people, is one approach to minimize the widespread negative impacts of agriculture on wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Conservation biological control is one such service that aims to use natural enemies to reduce crops losses from pests without the use of harmful pesticides, including rodenticides. In Napa Valley, California, human-made nest boxes are deployed on wine grape vineyards to attract barn owls (Tyto furcata) that depredate and remove thousands of rodent pests throughout the nesting season. However, the provisioning of this ecosystem service depends on whether a box is occupied and where on the landscape the owls are hunting. In this thesis, I used predictive occupancy models to show that barn owls prefer to occupy nest boxes surrounded by high proportions of grassland, and they prefer to hunt near their nest boxes, near oak savanna habitat, and in areas with a low habitat aggregation. A map of these models combined shows the hunting pressure by the owls in the study site’s vineyards. By mapping the provisioning of ecosystem services, landowners can be better informed on how land cover and nest box deployment affect the provisioning of rodent pest removal in their vineyard agroecosystems.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management

Included in

Ornithology Commons



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