The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is a species of conservation concern that is strongly associated with recently burned forests. Black-backed Woodpeckers are known to have variable home-range sizes, yet the ecological factors related to this variation have not been adequately explored and may hold insights into the natural history of the species and the management of its habitat. During 2011 and 2012, we radio-tracked Black-backed Woodpeckers nesting in 3 forested areas of California that burned between 2 and 5 years before the initiation of tracking. Among 15 individuals with robust tracking data, we found that home-range size varied by an order of magnitude, from 24.1 to 304.1 ha, as measured by movement-based kernel estimation. Using an information-theoretic approach, we evaluated the functional relationship between snag basal area—an a priori key resource—and home-range size, additionally controlling for sex, age, and years since fire as covariates. We found that snag basal area alone best predicted home-range size, explaining 54–62% of observed variation. As snag basal area increased, home-range sizes exponentially decreased. This relationship held true both with and without the inclusion of 3 individuals that nested in burned forest yet foraged predominantly outside the fire perimeter in unburned forest. Snag basal area, unlike other potential influences on home-range size, is an attribute that forest managers can directly influence. We describe a quantitative relationship between home-range size and snag basal area that forest managers can use to predict Black-backed Woodpecker pair density in burned forests and assess the likely population consequences of specific harvest treatments. Given that the birds in our study, foraging primarily in burned forest, all had home ranges with an average snag basal area ≥17 m2 ha−1, this may represent a benchmark for minimum habitat needs in postfire stands.
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Vol. 116 • No. 3