Many forest-dependent animals require complex branch and bole structural features as substrates for nesting, and these features may take decades or centuries to develop. In young forests, lack of suitable nest substrates may limit occurrence and abundance of arboreal rodents. To test this hypothesis, we measured the response of arboreal rodents to installation of 429 artificial nest platforms at 17 young forest sites in the Coast Range of Oregon, United States. We compared the percentage of 100-m2 plots at sites containing nests before and after installation of nest platforms, and examined 5 a priori hypotheses of spatial patterns of use using logistic regression. One year after installation, we observed a 5.8-fold increase (95% CI = 2.4–9.2) in plots containing nests of red tree voles (Arborimus longicaudus) and a 2.9-fold increase (95% CI = 1.3–4.4) of tree squirrels (Glaucomys oregonensis, Tamiasciurius douglasii). In addition, we captured 37 adult red tree voles (30 females, 7 males). Presence of conspecific nests < 75 m away increased the odds of use by red tree voles but not by tree squirrels. Our results support the hypothesis that lack of suitable nest substrates limits occurrence of red tree voles in young forests, but results were ambiguous for tree squirrels. Increasing the availability of nest substrates via installation of nest platforms may increase abundance of red tree voles in young forests. However, we do not know if this will allow red tree voles to persist in young forests that are subjected to repeated commercial thinning and clear-cut harvesting.
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Vol. 99 • No. 5