Action: Reduce inter-specific competition for nest sites by modifying habitats to exclude competitor species
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A replicated controlled study from the USA found no impact of midstorey clearance on the occupation of red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis nesting cavities by southern flying squirrels Glaucomys volans.
Because of the potential controversies over control and eradication efforts, it may be more appropriate to attempt to modify habitats so that they suit one species more than the others. Studies specifically designed to favour one competitor are discussed below, whilst more general habitat modifications are discussed in ‘Natural system modifications’.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A controlled, replicated study in 1990-1 in mixed loblolly pine Pinus taeda and shortleaf pine Pinus echinata forests in eastern Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1996) found that red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis nest cavities were occupied by southern flying squirrels Glaucomys volans and woodpeckers at approximately the same rates. Nest cavity occupation by both species was unaffected by the clearance of midstory hardwood vegetation in woodpecker territories (17 sites cleared of hardwood: 51% of cavities occupied by woodpeckers, 22% by squirrels; seven sites not cleared: 52% occupied by woodpeckers, 27% occupied by squirrels). Midstory vegetation is often assumed to encourage flying squirrels.