Condor’s Top Cited, #7: Black-Backed Woodpecker Home Range Size

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Maps of home-range size for radio-tracked Black-backed Woodpeckers.

This week we’re highlighting a paper from the August 2014 issue of The Condor: Variation in home-range size of Black-backed Woodpeckers by M.W. Tingley et al.

The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is a species of conservation concern that is strongly associated with recently burned forests. Though Black-backed Woodpeckers are known to have highly variable home-range sizes, the ecological factors behind this variation are not well understood.

The authors of this study radio-tracked Black-backed Woodpeckers nesting in three forested areas of California that had burned within the last five years and found that the best predictor of home-range size was the mean basal area of snags within their range – as snag basal area increased, home-range sizes exponentially decreased.

This is useful knowledge for forest managers, as mean snag basal area is something they can directly control. A postfire stand with high snag basal area is likely to support more Black-backed Woodpecker pairs than a stand of the same area but with lower average snag basal area, and foresters can manage habitat for Black-backed Woodpeckers by  selecting retention stands in postfire forests that may be more beneficial for them.

Read the full paper at