Elizabeth Meisman


Lizzi will be investigating potential mismatches between habitat quality and selection in Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) in Northern California. In long-lived territorial species like Swainson’s Hawks, these mismatches may pose serious risk to population viability. One of the longest running raptor studies in North America has continuously monitored breeding in a population of Swainson’s Hawks in Butte Valley, California since 1979, representing more than 40 years of research. Swainson’s Hawks exhibit strong site fidelity to territories on their breeding grounds. The majority of breeding pairs have established territories around, or in close proximity to, irrigated farmlands producing hay varieties (e.g., alfalfa). This long-term dataset is ideal to test whether adaptive habitat selection is operating as habitat conditions have changed over time. This research aims to explain the influence of varying agricultural crops to Swainson's Hawk territory selection and reproductive success in the Butte Valley over time. This information will have implications for the viability of the Butte Valley Swainson’s hawk population in the face of climate change and anticipated water shortages.