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1 May 2011 Resin-Barrier Maintenance as a Mechanism of Differential Predation among Occupants of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Cavities
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Abstract

The endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) is a cavity-limited cooperative breeder that excavates cavities in living pines and maintains a resin barrier that repels rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta and E. guttata), its principal predators. Heterospecific occupants of Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavities (cavity kleptoparasites) exacerbate the limitation of cavities. However, heterospecifics do not maintain the resin barrier, which deteriorates without upkeep. Thus, we predicted that heterospecific occupants of Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavities should suffer rates of nest predation higher than the Red-cockaded Woodpecker's. We compared the daily nest-survival rates of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker and two heterospecific occupants of its cavities, the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) and Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), in two forests in northern Florida. Results from both forests supported the differential-predation hypothesis. Although during incubation the three species' daily nest-survival rates were similar, the primary cause of failure was hatching failure for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers but predation for the two heterospecific occupants. During the nestling stage, daily nest success was significantly higher for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers than for Red-bellied Woodpeckers or Great Crested Flycatchers and similar for the latter two species (i.e., Red-cockaded Woodpecker » Red-bellied Woodpecker ≥ Great Crested Flycatcher); predators destroyed 3–6% of Red-cockaded Woodpecker nests and 21–37% of kleptoparasite nests. We hypothesize that rat snakes have an indirect positive effect on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (increased cavity availability) by preying differentially on heterospecific occupants of its cavities.

© 2011 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp.
John J. Kappes and Kathryn E. Sieving "Resin-Barrier Maintenance as a Mechanism of Differential Predation among Occupants of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Cavities," The Condor 113(2), (1 May 2011). https://doi.org/10.1525/cond.2011.090195
Received: 7 October 2009; Accepted: 1 December 2010; Published: 1 May 2011
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