Every two years, the American Ornithological Society bestows the Harry R. Painton Award for a paper published during the past four years in The Condor that makes an extraordinary contribution to ornithology. It includes a cash prize of $1,000.
In 2017, the award goes to: Katie Dugger and co-authors* for their article published in 2015. Entitled “The effects of habitat, climate, and Barred Owls on long-term demography of Northern Spotted Owls” (Condor 118: 57–116).
The article is a synthesis for Spotted Owls, a species of conservation concern that is affected by forest management and is being displaced by Barred Owls as a competitor. It included a remarkable set of demographic data from multiple sites. The authors used mark-recapture analyses with random effects to model occupancy dynamics, components of fecundity and survival, and effects of environmental covariates. The study also included a novel field experiment where demography of Spotted Owls was examined in response to experimental culling of Barred Owls. The article stood out as a particularly comprehensive work based on extensive field work at multiple sites, impressive collaboration among many researchers, innovative use of new statistical methods, and new insights into the competitive interactions of conspecific species of owl. The article provides new evidence that the future persistence of Spotted Owls may be reliant on conservation action, and that continued removals of Barred Owls may be necessary to halt or slow the extirpation of sensitive populations.
*Dugger, K.M., E.D. Forsman, A.B. Franklin, R.J. Davis, G.C. White, C.J. Schwarz, K.P. Burnham, J.D. Nichols, J.E. Hines, C.B. Yackulic, P.F. Doherty Jr., L. Bailey, D.A. Clark, S.H. Ackers, L.S. Andrews, B. Augustine, B.L. Biswell, J. Blakesley, P.C. Carlson, M.J. Clement, L.V. Diller, E.M. Glenn, A. Green, S.A. Gremel, D.R. Herter, J.M. Higley, J. Hobson, R.B. Horn, K.P. Huyvaert, C. McCafferty, T. McDonald, K. McDonnell, G.S. Olson, J.A. Reid, J. Rockweit, V. Ruiz, J. Saenz, and S.G. Sovern.