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    Author(s): Sally Duncan
    Date: 2003
    Source: Science Findings 57. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (367.0 KB)


    Prior to 1994, the pileated woodpecker was a management indicator species (MIS) of mature and old-growth forest conditions on 16 of 19 national forests in the Pacific Northwest Region. This status required each of those national forests to establish pileated woodpecker habitat areas that included tracts of mature and old-growth forest with minimum densities of large, hard snags for nesting and foraging. The Northwest Forest Plan removed special management provisions for MIS because it was believed that late-successional reserves and new standards and guidelines for green-tree and snag retention during timber harvest would provide adequate habitat for pileated woodpeckers and other late-successional forest associates. Empirical information on the habitat relations of pileated woodpeckers in west-side forests, however, is extremely limited, and it is not clear that current management provisions will provide adequate habitat for them in coastal forests. In particular, new findings on the structures required for nesting, roosting, and foraging indicate that providing only snags for nest trees may not support viable populations of these woodpeckers. Because of the ecological benefits it provides for numerous other species through its various excavations, the pileated woodpecker is believed to be a "keystone" species. Additional monitoring of pileated woodpecker populations and the habitat components they require may be needed to ensure that current management guidelines provide adequate habitat for this ecosystem engineer at multiple spatial scales.

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    Duncan, Sally. 2003. Coming home to roost: the pileated woodpecker as ecosystem engineer. Science Findings 57. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p

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