Committee Chair

Aborn, David A.

Committee Member

Wilson, Thomas P.; O'Neill, Eric M.


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


My study looked at the distribution and abundance of Northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) in the Southern Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. Pennsylvania Toot Route Protocol (Larzone and Mulvihill 2006) was used to survey routes in the spring/summer of 2013 – 14. Nine birds were found, primarily above 1067 m. I studied the population dynamics of A. acadicus in the Southern Appalachians to determine a subspecies was present. Samples from Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee and North Carolina were obtained; cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 were sequenced and analyzed using AMOVAs and network analyses. The Southern Appalachian population was not a subspecies but may be a recent colonization with a small population. Further research into habitat requirements in the Southern Appalachians as well as fecundity and general ecology can help conservation efforts. Current forest management plans do factor in the needs of this species but there are data gaps.


I would like to thank my family for putting up with my “dangerous” habits of going into the woods at night. I would also like to thank those that came with me into the dangerous wild lands of Cherokee National Forest and Nantahala National Forest (to the wild ghost fairies). Dr. David Aborn for accepting me and helping with my time at UTC. Scott Somershoe, state bird biologist formerly of TWRA for being really excited to have someone survey for saw-whets and was able to get me the grant to do my work. Dr. Eric O’Neill and Dr. Yukie Kajita for helping me, a lot, with my genetics research. Definitely could not have done this without you guys. Dr. Thomas Wilson for giving extremely tough critique that only helped make this a better paper. Mark Hopey, Liza, and Krista of Southern Appalachian Raptor Research for letting me use samples that they worked extremely hard to collect. Dr. Glenn Proudfoot of Poughkeepsie, NY for letting me use his blood samples, once again that took a lot of time and effort to collect. Dr. Karl Kleiner of York College, who gave me my first out of state samples and recommended that I try different extraction protocols. Drs. Barbosa and Kovach for helping me with making reagents and letting me use their labs. To the biology office, for letting me use the truck and getting me supplies. All in all a big heartfelt thank you to everyone that made this possible.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Northern saw-whet owl; Owls; Strigidae; Owls -- Appalachian Mountains


Aegolius; acadicus; Southern Appalachians; Cherokee National Forest; Genetics; Population; Management practices; Nantahala National Forest; Saw-whet owl; Owl

Document Type

Masters theses




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