Inter-Research > ESR > v50 > p249-265  
Endangered Species Research

via Mailchimp

ESR 50:249-265 (2023)  -  DOI:

Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat characteristics associated with partial brood loss in the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain, USA

Emily J. Martin1,2, Franco Gigliotti1,3, Paige F. B. Ferguson1,*

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401, USA
2Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Some red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) Dryobates borealis populations remain understudied. This is notable because management that incorporates population demographics and site characteristics may benefit RCW recovery. The Oakmulgee Ranger District of the Talladega National Forest (Alabama, USA) has no wiregrass Aristida stricta, small forest stand sizes, rolling topography, and contains an understudied RCW population. Our goal in the Oakmulgee was to characterize RCW habitat, possibly identify ways in which habitat differed from other regions, and estimate associations between habitat and reproductive output. We found that 70.2 and 92.5% of sampled stands met recovery standard thresholds for small and large pine basal area (BA) as defined in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) RCW Recovery Plan. While 74.6% of longleaf pine Pinus palustris-dominated stands met the threshold for overstory hardwood canopy composition, 60.0% of loblolly pine P. taeda-dominated stands did not. Few stands met the recommended percentage of herbaceous understory (19.8%) or recommended absence of hardwood midstory. A lower rate of partial brood loss was associated with a greater area of large pines (≥25.4 cm diameter at breast height; DBH), a smaller area of small pines (≥10 and <25.4 cm DBH), a larger area burned in the dormant season, and higher RCW density. In our models, hardwood overstory and midstory did not influence egg or hatchling production. Hardwoods in the Oakmulgee could contribute to unfavorable habitat, as indicated in the USFWS RCW Recovery Plan, as well as relate to variation in habitat across the RCW’s range. Regions of the RCW’s range are understudied, and limited staffing and funding impede advances in understanding and conservation.

KEY WORDS: Prescribed fire · Hardwood overstory · Herbaceous understory · Nest success · Egg · Hatchling · Longleaf pine · Midstory

Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material
Cite this article as: Martin EJ, Gigliotti F, Ferguson PFB (2023) Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat characteristics associated with partial brood loss in the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain, USA. Endang Species Res 50:249-265.

Export citation
Share:    Facebook - - linkedIn

 Previous article Next article