Tree cavity densities and characteristics in managed and unmanaged Swedish boreal forest
Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
In forests worldwide, ∼10−40% of bird and mammal species require cavities for nesting or roosting. Although knowledge of tree cavity availability and dynamics has increased during past decades, there is a striking lack of studies from boreal Europe. We studied the density and characteristics of cavities and cavity-bearing trees in three categories of forest in a north-Swedish landscape: clearcuts with tree retention, managed old (>100 years) forest, and unmanaged old forest. Unmanaged old forests had significantly higher mean density of cavities (2.4 ± 2.2(SD) ha−1) than managed old forest (1.1 ± 2.1 ha−1). On clearcuts the mean cavity density was 0.4 ± 2.3 ha−1. Eurasian aspen (Populus tremula) had a higher probability of containing excavated cavities than other tree species. There was a greater variety of entrance hole shapes and a higher proportion of cavities with larger entrances in old forest than on clearcuts. Although studies of breeding success will be necessary to more accurately assess the impact of forest management on cavity-nesting birds, our results show reduced cavity densities in managed forest. To ensure future provision of cavities, managers should retain existing cavity-bearing trees as well as trees suitable for cavity formation, particularly aspen and dead trees.
Andersson, J. et al. Tree cavity densities and characteristics in managed and unmanaged Swedish boreal forest. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 33(3)233-244.