Nest site selection and nest survival of Black-backed Woodpeckers after wildfireAuthor(s): Andrew Stillman; Rodney Siegel; Robert Wilkerson; Matthew Johnson; Christine Howell; Morgan W. Tingley
Source: The Condor
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Recently burned coniferous forests host wildlife communities that respond to variation in burn severity, post-fire habitat structure, and patch configuration. Habitat selection theory predicts that birds inhabiting these variable post-fire landscapes will select nesting locations that confer an adaptive advantage through increased fitness and reproductive success. Understanding the effect of post-fire habitat on avian nesting ecology can provide valuable information to guide restoration and management after wildfire. The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is strongly associated with recently burned forests in the western United States, where it is used as an indicator species for the effects of post-fire forest management. Between 2011 and 2018, we located and monitored 118 Black-backed Woodpecker nests in burned forests of northern California. We evaluated the influence of habitat and nest characteristics on nest site selection and daily nest survival. Our results demonstrate a pattern of neutral congruence between habitat selection and fitness. Black-backed Woodpeckers showed strong selection for each of the nest habitat variables that we measured: woodpeckers selected moderately sized trees in areas of high snag density burned at high severity, but also in areas relatively close to low-severity or unburned edges. However, only nest initiation date affected nest survival, with decreased survival in late-season nests. Our results suggest that management actions aimed at maintaining breeding habitat for Black-backed Woodpeckers should prioritize retention and creation of pyrodiverse landscapes that include dense stands of snags (>5 snags per 100 m2) within ~500 m of forest that burned at low severity or remained unburned.
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CitationStillman, Andrew N; Siegel, Rodney B; Wilkerson, Robert L; Johnson, Matthew; Howell, Christine A; Tingley, Morgan W. 2019. Nest site selection and nest survival of Black-backed Woodpeckers after wildfire. The Condor. 121(3). https://doi.org/10.1093/condor/duz039.
Keywordsadaptive landscape, burned forest, daily nest survival, DSR, habitat selection, nest success, neutral congruence, Picoides arcticus, post-fire, pyrodiversity
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