Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Joseph L. Ganey
    Date: 2016
    Source: Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.609.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (337.0 KB)


    Snags provide habitat for numerous species of wildlife. Several authors have provided recommendations for snag retention in southwestern mixed-conifer and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. Most recommendations were presented in terms of minimum snag density and/or size. I summarized the history of recommendations for snag retention in these forest types, and used data from a current study of snag populations (conducted within Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, north-central AZ, USA, 1997 through 2012) to assess congruence between existing snag populations and various recommendations. Most recommendations were based on studies of cavity-nesting birds; therefore, this analysis emphasized characteristics of snags containing excavated nest cavities. Proportions of plots that met minimum management targets varied among recommendations, ranging from 34% to 100% in mixed-conifer forest and from 7% to 95% in ponderosa pine forest. Failure to meet density targets often was caused by a shortage of snags that met minimum size criteria rather than by a shortage of snags. Many snags containing excavated nest cavities did not meet the minimum size criteria in some recommendations. It may be possible to reduce those minimum size criteria while still providing substrates for cavity-nesting birds. Studies explicitly linking snag size and density to demography of cavity-nesting birds are badly needed, however, as are studies documenting ecologically sustainable snag densities. Until such data are available, managers should continue to emphasize snag recruitment and retention, with the focus on larger snags, and to ensure that snags are well-distributed, but not uniformly distributed, across the landscape.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Ganey, Joseph L. 2016. Recommendations for snag retention in southwestern mixed-conifer and ponderosa pine forests: History and current status. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.609.


    Google Scholar


    cavities, cavity-nesting birds, management guidelines, snag density, snag diameter, snag height, snags, snag size, snag species, wildlife habitat

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page