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14 March 2018 Relative importance of social factors, conspecific density, and forest structure on space use by the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker: A new consideration for habitat restoration
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Abstract

Understanding how the interplay between social behaviors and habitat structure influences space use is important for conservation of birds in restored habitat. We integrated fine-grained LiDAR-derived habitat data, spatial distribution of cavity trees, and spatially explicit behavioral observations in a multi-scale model to determine the relative importance of conspecific density, intraspecific interactions, and the distribution of cavities on space use by Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) on 2 sites in South Carolina, USA. We evaluated candidate models using information theoretic methods. Top scale-specific models included effects of conspecific density and number of cavity tree starts within 200 m of Red-cockaded Woodpecker foraging locations, and effects of the number of intraspecific interactions within 400 m of Red-cockaded Woodpecker foraging locations. The top multi-scale model for 22 of 34 Red-cockaded Woodpecker groups included covariates for the number of groups within 200 m of foraging locations and LiDAR-derived habitat with moderate densities of large pines (Pinus spp.) and minimal hardwood overstory. These results indicate distribution of neighboring groups was the most important predictor of space use once a minimal set of structural habitat thresholds was reached, and that placing recruitment clusters as little as 400 m from foraging partitions of neighboring groups may promote establishment of new breeding groups in unoccupied habitat. The presence of neighboring groups likely provides cues to foraging Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that facilitate prospecting prior to juvenile dispersal and, to a lesser extent, indicates high-quality forage resources. Careful consideration of local distribution of neighboring groups in potential habitat may improve managers' ability to increase Red-cockaded Woodpecker density on restored landscapes and mitigate isolation of Red-cockaded Woodpecker groups, a problem that negatively affects fitness across the species' range.

© 2018 American Ornithological Society.
James E. Garabedian, Christopher E. Moorman, M. Nils Peterson, and John C. Kilgo "Relative importance of social factors, conspecific density, and forest structure on space use by the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker: A new consideration for habitat restoration," The Condor 120(2), 305-318, (14 March 2018). https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-17-211.1
Received: 14 October 2017; Accepted: 20 December 2017; Published: 14 March 2018
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