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N. Avenant (2005)

Barn owl pellets : a useful tool for monitoring small mammal communities?


Monthly fluctuations in the diet of Barn owl Two alba were compared to prey availability in a typical South African dry sandy highveld grassland over a 12 month period. Mice, shrews, bats, birds and insects were all major prey items, and their contribution in pellets fluctuated significantly over months. Barn owl proved to be very efficient samplers of the small mammal prey group : not only was the owl more successful than museum Personnel in sampling the variety of species present during a specific time of year, but peaks in prey utilization were also more characteristic of actual fluctuations than that found by traps. Owl pellet analysis is a valuable asset during small mammal monitoring studies, and is especially useful for sampling small mammal indicator species during environmental impact assessments, However, owl pellet analysis should never be seen as an alternative for small mammal trapping when small mammal community structure is the focus of study.

Barn owl; small mammal; monitoring; sampling method
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology