The White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) is one of the rarest European woodpeckers and its populations have declined markedly during the last century in many European countries. The objective of our study was to investigate the selection of nesting and feeding trees by the subspecies D. l. lilfordi, a field not previously investigated. We conducted this study in a mountain area of central Italy characterized by wide and homogeneous tracts of beech- (Fagus sylvatica) forested slopes. The rate at which we detected the species was highly correlated with the mean trunk dbh of the stand; the more mature the stand, the greater the number of woodpecker detections. The White-backed Woodpecker was dependent upon trees that were mature, dead, or in an advanced degree of decay for both nesting and foraging. The habitat specialization of the species suggests that forest stand management should promote longer harvesting rotations, preserve dead and decaying trees, create new foraging sites, and prevent excessive fragmentation of forested landscapes.
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