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6 August 2019 Nest site selection and nest survival of Black-backed Woodpeckers after wildfire
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Abstract

Recently burned coniferous forests host wildlife communities that respond to variation in burn severity, post-fire habitat structure, and patch configuration. Habitat selection theory predicts that birds inhabiting these variable post-fire landscapes will select nesting locations that confer an adaptive advantage through increased fitness and reproductive success. Understanding the effect of post-fire habitat on avian nesting ecology can provide valuable information to guide restoration and management after wildfire. The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is strongly associated with recently burned forests in the western United States, where it is used as an indicator species for the effects of post-fire forest management. Between 2011 and 2018, we located and monitored 118 Black-backed Woodpecker nests in burned forests of northern California. We evaluated the influence of habitat and nest characteristics on nest site selection and daily nest survival. Our results demonstrate a pattern of neutral congruence between habitat selection and fitness. Blackbacked Woodpeckers showed strong selection for each of the nest habitat variables that we measured: woodpeckers selected moderately sized trees in areas of high snag density burned at high severity, but also in areas relatively close to low-severity or unburned edges. However, only nest initiation date affected nest survival, with decreased survival in late-season nests. Our results suggest that management actions aimed at maintaining breeding habitat for Black-backed Woodpeckers should prioritize retention and creation of pyrodiverse landscapes that include dense stands of snags (>5 snags per 100 m2) within ~500 m of forest that burned at low severity or remained unburned.

Published by Oxford University Press for the American Ornithological Society 2019. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
Andrew N. Stillman, Rodney B. Siegel, Robert L. Wilkerson, Matthew Johnson, Christine A. Howell, and Morgan W. Tingley "Nest site selection and nest survival of Black-backed Woodpeckers after wildfire," The Condor 121(3), 1-13, (6 August 2019). https://doi.org/10.1093/condor/duz039
Received: 2 March 2019; Accepted: 17 June 2019; Published: 6 August 2019
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