You may have been lucky enough to see a pueo swooping by at dusk, when these endangered endemic owls like to hunt. But their numbers are declining, and not enough is known about them to help their recovery.
Laura Luther, M.S. candidate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, will defend her master’s thesis, “Factors Influencing the Distribution of the Hawaiian Short-eared Owl (Pueo)” on Tuesday, June 30, at 10:00 a.m. Join her via Zoom and find out more about where these beautiful owls live and hunt, and why.
Multiple factors influence their selection of foraging habitat, Laura explains. The pueo (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) occurs across the Hawaiian Islands in diverse habitats, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, and shrublands, and consumes a variety of prey, including rodents, birds, and invertebrates. Laura’s thesis research evaluated which factors influence pueo occupancy on the island of Maui by determining the island-wide distribution of both pueo and potential prey items, coupled with vegetation height.
Pueo were detected across all vegetation types but were most often seen in mid- to high-elevation grassland and shrubland. Larger amounts of insects and rats, as well as geographical elevation, were all found to increase the probability of pueo occupancy on Maui.
Find out more at the defense! Laura’s thesis committee consists of Melissa Price, Shaya Honarvar, and Karen Steensma.