Aspen Bibliography

Habitat associations of black-backed and three-toed woodpeckers in the boreal forest of Alberta

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Canadian Journal of Forest Research





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Recent studies suggest that black-backed (Picoides arcticus) and three-toed woodpeckers (Picoides tridactylus) might decrease in abundance because of habitat loss from fire suppression and short-rotation logging in landscapes managed for forestry. We examined black-backed and three-toed woodpecker occupancy of stands in a 2-year post-fire forest, mature and old-growth spruce and pine forests, and six post-fire coniferous forests of different ages. Three-toeds were detected in old stands and in the 2-year-old burn, and their probability of occupancy of burned forests decreased between 3 and 8 years post-fire. Within 50 km of the 2-year-old burn, black-backs were only detected in the burn and not in old-growth or mature conifer stands. However, they did occupy old coniferous stands located 75 and 150 km from the recent burn. They had a similar probability of occupying stands in the 3-, 4-, and 8-year-old burns but were not detected in the 16-year-old burn. The persistence of three-toed woodpeckers in boreal Alberta will likely depend on the presence of both old-growth and recently burned coniferous forests or forests with old-growth structural characteristics. Black-backed woodpeckers appear to be more burn dependent than three-toeds, and their long-term persistence may depend on the frequency of recently burned forests within their dispersal range.