Expected Graduation Year



College of Science


Biology Department

Faculty Mentor

Kim Sullivan


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


Publication Date




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.