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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Response of red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations to intensive management at four national forest in Texas, USA

Published source details

Conner R.N., Rudolph D.C. & Bonner L.H. (1995) Red-cockaded woodpecker population trends and management on Texas national forests. Journal of Field Ornithology, 66, 140-151


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use prescribed burning on pine forests Bird Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in four National Forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found that red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations increased at all four sites in the early 1990s after management for woodpeckers was intensified in 1989. This followed declines in the 1980s. Management included: prescribed burning and mechanical mid-storey vegetation removal and pine thinning; provision of 716 artificial cavities and the translocation of 19 woodpeckers. Status (i.e. active or inactive) of woodpecker cavity-tree clusters (groups of trees occupied by a breeding group of woodpeckers) was monitored (1983-1993) and by 1993, 98% of active clusters and 58% of inactive clusters had been burned at least once.

 

Manually control or remove midstorey and ground-level vegetation (including mowing, chaining, cutting etc) in forests Bird Conservation

A series of before-and-after trials in four open pine forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found that red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations increased at all four sites in the early 1990s after management, including mid- and under-storey thinning, was intensified in 1989. Vegetation was removed from 1988-1993 from 310-1450 ha of cluster areas each year and 30 of 39 (77%) new breeding clusters (i.e. breeding groups of woodpeckers) established over the study period were in areas with extensive mid- and under-storey thinning. This study is discussed in detail in ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’, ‘Translocate individuals’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.

 

Thin trees within forests Bird Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in four National Forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found that red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations increased at all four sites in the early 1990s after management, including reducing pine tree basal area to 14 m2/ha, was intensified in 1989. This study is discussed in detail ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’, ‘Translocate individuals’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.

 

Protect nest sites from competitors Bird Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in four National Forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found that red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations increased at all four sites in the early 1990s after management, including the installation of restrictor plates around nesting holes, was intensified in 1989. The plates were installed in order to prevent enlargement of cavities by pileated woodpeckers Dryocopus pileatus. This study is discussed in ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’, ‘Translocate individuals’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.

 

Translocate woodpeckers Bird Conservation

A series of before-and-after trials in four open pine forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found that 11 of 19 translocated red-cockaded woodpeckers Picoides borealis formed pairs at their release sites. Birds were one-year-old when they were transported to tree clusters containing a single bird of the opposite sex in 1989-92. Success rates did not differ significantly between males (three out of five birds, 60%, establishing) and females (eight out of 14 birds, 57%). This study also discusses installing artificial nesting cavities and managing forests for woodpeckers, see ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’ for details.

 

Manually control or remove midstorey and ground-level vegetation (including mowing, chaining, cutting etc) in forests Bird Conservation

A controlled, replicated study in 1990-1 in mixed loblolly pine Pinus taeda and shortleaf pine P. echinata forests in eastern Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), found no differences in occupancy rates of nest cavities by red-cockaded woodpeckers and southern flying squirrels Glaucomys volans between stands with thinned midstorey vegetation and control stands. This study is discussed in detail in ‘Reduce inter-specific competition for nest sites by modifying habitats to exclude competitor species’.

 

Provide artificial nesting sites for woodpeckers Bird Conservation

A series of before-and-after trials in four open pine forests in Texas, USA (Conner et al. 1995), investigated the impact of multiple interventions, including the provision of 736 artificial cavities (mostly ‘inserts’), on red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis populations. Following declines throughout much of the 1980s, numbers of active clusters stabilised, with increases apparent at all four sites in the early 1990s and a total 39 new clusters established, 22 of which were in areas with artificial nesting sites. Restrictor plates were also installed around red-cockaded woodpecker nesting holes to prevent enlargement of cavities by pileated woodpeckers Dryocopus pileatus. This study is discussed in more detail in ‘Translocate individuals’ and ‘Use prescribed burning’.