Graduate Project

Effects of Woolsey Fire on Nesting Territories of Southern California Red-Tailed Hawks

Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF


Attribute NameValues
  • The relationship between fire and wildlife habitat is complex. Fires can create favorable conditions for some species and simultaneously extirpate entire populations of other species. Red-tailed hawks choose nesting habitats according to resources available. Natural disturbances such as wildfires change the availability of those resources. In late 2018, the Woolsey fire burned much of Ventura County, California, changing composition of the flora and fauna in areas affected by the fire. Nest site use for Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) has been tracked in the Santa Monica Mountains of Ventura county from the 1970s to 2019. The Woolsey fire area is surrounded by mountain ranges as well as suburban areas, providing hawks with a variety of nesting habitats consisting of both native and nonnative trees. The Woolsey fire affected these varied habitats differently. The area burned by the Woolsey fire had not been largely affected by fire since the 2003 Simi fire. The fact that this area has been free from damaging stochastic events for over a decade made it a prime area for studying the immediate effects of fire on raptor nesting. We investigated how fire affected nest habitability and whether several variables factored into nest persistence within the 2018 Woolsey fire area. Nest persistence in this context was defined by the presence of a nesting hawk. We hypothesized that the magnitude of the burn and the species of the tree in which the nest was built were correlated to nest persistence. In addition, we proposed that geographic position relative to the fire border, and not just local destruction of nests, was a key variable in nest persistence. While proximity to the edge of the fire’s border and magnitude of burn severity were found to be correlated with nest persistence, tree species was found to have no discernible correlation.
Resource Type
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Degree Field
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Committee Member
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed



This work has no parents.