New Project: Eulen-Spiegel (Owls in Focus)

The European Wilderness Society has started a new project: Eulen Spiegel (Owls in Focus). The 2-year project is funded by the Austrian Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism. The pilot project aims to develop proposals for conservation and improvement of fauna biodiversity in forests and forest edge areas.

  • Project programme: Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism
  • Project budget: € 219 912.60 (financed by state, national and EU funds)
  • European Wilderness Society budget: € 219 912.60
  • Start date: 01/10/2020
  • End date: 30/09/2022

Description of the project

The largest part of European forests is made up of managed forests. Different fauna and flora species are influenced by human landscape management. Some kinds of species can profit from the right management. However, in many cases, human impacts degrade habitats and lead to species becoming endangered. Thus, what is the true impact of forest management on owl populations in the Alps? Are Wilderness areas beneficial for owls?

We are going to research owls in forest ecosystems using a modern method – bioacoustics. This research will take place in Wildnisgebiet Durrenstein, managed forests by OBF and protected areas in Salzburg. Altogether 40 AudioMoth audio recorders will be used to record owl acoustical behaviour on a minimum of 10 sites in managed forests, the Wilderness area and on three sites in protected areas in the Salzburg region. These recorders can record more than 10 nights of audio recordings. We will identify the abundance of owl species, diversity and owl species composition. We will also evaluate the change of Tawny owl males in the territories and differences in the ecosystems. All this information about owls and their environment will help us answer questions about the impact of forest management on owls in the Alps. On each site, we will install four recorders in different parts of the mountains.

Our research will take place during the spring and autumn when owls normally defend their territories very actively. It is possible to distinguish owl species and (in some owl species) also individuals based on spectrograms of territorial calls. We will thus measure the duration of individual hoots. The number of owl individuals, species diversity and composition, and turnover of males in territories will be statistically analysed for different environments. An interesting part of the research represents the analysis of the length of hoot parameters. A relationship was discovered between the length of the call and fitness of an individual owl. We would like to compare hoots from managed and Wilderness areas. This may give us an answer to owl fitness in these areas.  

First project webinar: Bioacoustics in nature conservation

On the 27th of April (14:00 GMT +02:00), the first webinar under the framework of the Eulen-Spiegel (Owls in Focus) project will take place. The webinar will be held by nature conservation expert Vlado Nemcek, who is currently working in several conservation projects across Europe. He is an expert in bioacoustics and will share his knowledge on this during the course of the webinar. Bioacoustics is a modern, cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics. Marine mammals, bats, birds, amphibians and insects can be monitored using these techniques. Bioacoustics has many advantages:

  • It can be used in various environments and in hard-to-reach terrain
  • It does not effect animal behaviour
  • Small size of equipment and decent prices make recordings and analyses easily accessible for all researchers

In the first part of the webinar, Vlado will introduce you to the current knowledge about bioacoustics, what type of research can be done with it and how to process data. The second part will be dedicated to his research experience of owls and bats. The last part will be devoted to the Eulen-Spiegel (Owls in Focus) project, which focuses on research and its dissemination of forest management impact on owl populations in the Alps.

This webinar will be bilingual in German and English.

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