Eulen-Spiegel (Owls in Focus)

Project details

  • 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
  • Project website:

Project Objectives

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 Dürrenstein, forests that are managed by ÖBF and protected areas in the province 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, as previous research has discovered a relationship between the length of the call and fitness of an individual owl. We would like to compare hoots that are recorded in managed and Wilderness areas. This may give us an answer or indication of the owl’s fitness in these areas.  

Project Partners

  1. European Wilderness Society

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