Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Clark Monson : Geography Blog

Dr. Monson's Research on Peregrine Falcon Recovery in North Central Utah was published recently. Click to read more about his findings.

Dr. Clark Monson has taught geography at BYU since 2000. Prior to BYU he also taught at Utah Valley State College (Now Utah Valley University) and BYU-Hawaii. Dr. Monson has loved birds since he was a young boy growing up in Utah. When he was studying communications at BYU in the 1980s he found a love for geography. He later received a Masters in geography from BYU and a PhD in geography from the University of Hawaii. Growing up in Salt Lake City, serving a mission in New Zealand and attending school in Hawaii led him to his decision to focus his studies and research on environmental geography and biogeography in Utah and Oceania. 

The last 7 years of his research have been spent studying Peregrine falcons in North Central Utah. The results of his study were recently published in Western North American Naturalist. Prior to Dr. Monson’s research, most literature on the subject would suggest that there are only a handful of pairs of Peregrine falcons in this part of Utah. By using the numbers in existing studies and coupling that with his own field work, Dr. Monson was able to locate an astounding 45 pairs of Peregrine falcons hidden in North Central Utah, where they were thought to be struggling to recover from the massive population decline during the middle part of the 20th century. 

Hiking and interviewing fellow falconers in the study area, he slowly worked his way through rugged terrain that once housed large populations of Peregrine falcons. In the 1980s there was an effort made to build nests on artificial towers and then reintroduce the species to the area, hoping they would take to their manufactured home. The population growth conservationists hoped for never came. Several pairs of falcons slowly gathered in the area, but nothing more came. Turns out, they actually did come! The Peregrines just are not as social as they used to be. Dr. Monson says that he definitely did not find every pair in this region, the terrain to some of the nesting areas is to rugged to reasonably traverse. The number nests he did find though were exponentially more than what anyone would have otherwise expected. His research has proved to be significant in providing evidence for Peregrine recovery and helping Utah conservationists understand the dynamics of the Peregrine population. You ca read the full article in North American Naturalist

by Ryan Shields


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