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Determination of Tucson, Arizona as an Ecological Trap for Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii)

The term "ecological trap" has been used to describe a habitat in which its attractiveness has been disassociated with its level of suitability. To date, fewer than ten clearly delineated examples of them have been found; they are either rare in nature, hard to detect, or a combination of both. It has been hypothesized that the city of Tucson, Arizona is an ecological trap for Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii ) due to the abundance of prey species, namely columbids, which make up over 80% of the hawk's diet. Overall, more than 40% of these columbid populations are carriers of the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae, which directly contributes to a nestling mortality rate of more than 50% in the hawks. Using an epidemiological framework, we create two SIR-type models, one stochastic and one deterministic, utilizing parameter estimates from more than ten years of data from the dove (columbid) and hawk populations in the city. Through mathematical modeling and bifurcation theory, we found that the proportion of infected columbids, does not have an effect on classifying Tucson as an ecological trap for Cooper's Hawks, but by increasing the disease death rate, it can be considered an ecological trap

  • Poster session award recipient at the 2011 Ana G. Mendez University System (AGMUS) Research Symposium in Tucson, AZ

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Jouie Ames, University of California, Santa Cruz
Andrea Feiler, Arizona State University
Giancarlo Mendoza, Universidad Metropolitana P.R.
Adam Rumpf, Arizona State University
Stephen Wirkus, Arizona State University