Landscape Heterogeneity at White-Headed Woodpecker Nest Sites in West-Central Idaho

Adam R. Kehoe, Victoria A. Saab, Quresh Latif, Jonathan G. Dudley


The white-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) is a regional endemic species of dry conifer forests in the Inland Pacific Northwest, where forest restoration activities are increasingly common. Recent efforts to mitigate severe fire effects and restore ecological function in these forests have prompted land managers to consider the implications of forest management actions on a range of resources, including wildlife. Identifying the associations of sensitive wildlife species with the structure and distribution of resources across landscapes is necessary for scientifically-sound management decisions. We examined the heterogeneity and proportion of open- and closed- canopy forest patches surrounding white-headed woodpecker nest sites during 2012 and 2013. We used logistic regression to compare differences between nest (n = 34) and non-nest (n = 184) sites. We found a stronger positive relationship with low canopy closure within 1-ha of nest sites compared with non-nest sites (nests: x̅ = 0.49, SD = 0.43; non-nests: x̅ = 0.06, SD = 0.16; P < 0.001). We also measured a stronger positive relationship with the edge density between low and moderate canopy patches within a 1-km radius of nest sites compared with non-nest sites (nests: x̅ = 30.0 meters/ha, SD = 14.6; non-nests: x̅ = 18.4 m/ha, SD = 14.9; P < 0.001). Our results are consistent with studies of nesting white-headed woodpeckers in Oregon. These data will help further validate and refine habitat suitability models across their northern range and contribute towards effective management decisions that will benefit the white-headed woodpecker.

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