Research on Capitol Hill
 

Expected Graduation Year

2018

College

College of Science

Department

Biology Department

Faculty Mentor

Kim Sullivan

Abstract

Woodpeckers serve a vital role as a keystone species in their respective biome by excavating nesting cavities that are in turn used by numerous forest birds and animals. These secondary cavity nesters rely heavily on the success of primary nesters in order to ensure their own reproductive success. Unfortunately numerous woodpeckers, such as the Black-backed (Picoides arcticus) and White-headed Woodpeckers (Picoides albolarvatus), have seen a large decline in numbers and are now considered a threatened species. Inability for these woodpeckers to reproduce creates a top-down trophic cascade in their biome. In an effort to better understand how nesting success is impacted by the behaviors of woodpeckers, predators, and secondary cavity nesters at the nest, sixty-five different nests were filmed for over 15,000 hours in the Eastern Washington Cascades during the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons. We have watched and scored close to 400 hours of footage and have documented aggressive takeover by secondary cavity nesters, predation of nest chicks, and even human disturbance of nests. By better understanding the ecological pressures woodpeckers face and identifying what factors contribute to successful nesting, proper measures can be taken to maintain healthy levels of woodpecker populations.

First Co-Presenter's Department

Biology Department

Second Co-Presenter's Department

Biology Department

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

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