USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

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Ecological succession in the Angora fire: Forest management effects on woodpeckers as keystone species

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

Patricia Manley, USDA FS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Gina Tarbill, Sacramento State University


Woodpeckers are considered keystone species, due in part to their important role as cavity excavators. Woodpeckers may have especially strong effects on ecosystem processes after fires, when cavity excavation, drilling, and bark peeling provide cover and foraging areas for other species. These activities may be limited or enhanced by fire severity and restoration treatments, with cascading impacts to secondary cavity users. We will investigate the role of primary cavity excavators in the facilitation of colonization of secondary cavity users. Nest webs illustrate the interrelationships between species that exhibit sequential use of substrates for nesting, resting, or roosting. Nest webs will be created to investigate how secondary cavity users utilize woodpecker cavities in burned and areas under various restoration treatments. These nest webs illustrate where interrelationships between and among species are strongest, and it will allow predictions on both direct and indirect effects of fire severity and post-fire restoration practices on woodpeckers and secondary cavity users. Although burn area use by woodpeckers has been studied in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon, the forests of the Sierra Nevada support a different suite of tree and woodpecker species, and few if any studies have been conducted in the Sierra addressing how best to manage burned areas for biodiversity restoration. The Angora burn area has a diversity of forest types that are characteristic of the montane zone in the basin, including Jeffrey pine, white fir, Sierran mixed conifer, red fir, subalpine conifer, and aspen. Thus, the results of this study will be applicable to montane forests throughout the basin. The results of this study will help guide future forest management in terms of how best to enhance habitat conditions to promote the reestablishment of bird and small mammal communities in burned areas, and enhance conservation strategies of species of special concern in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Relation to Other SNPLMA Projects

This project will complement the Round 9 SNPLMA science project, "Biodiversity response to burn intensity and post-fire restoration" and expand upon their work to include a larger number of sites (from 42 to 72), invertebrates, and nest-site selection by woodpeckers.

Expected date of final products:

October 2011

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:07 PM