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Title: The role of wildfire, prescribed fire, and mountain pine beetle infestations on the population dynamics of black-backed woodpeckers in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Author: Rota, Christopher T.; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Rumble, Mark A.; Lehman, Chad P.; Kesler, Dylan C.;

Date: 2014

Source: PLoS ONE. 9(4): e94700.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Wildfire and mountain pine beetle infestations are naturally occurring disturbances in western North American forests. Black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) are emblematic of the role these disturbances play in creating wildlife habitat, since they are strongly associated with recently-killed forests. However, management practices aimed at reducing the economic impact of natural disturbances can result in habitat loss for this species. Although black-backed woodpeckers occupy habitats created by wildfire, prescribed fire, and mountain pine beetle infestations, the relative value of these habitats remains unknown. We studied habitat-specific adult and juvenile survival probabilities and reproductive rates between April 2008 and August 2012 in the Black Hills, South Dakota. We estimated habitat-specific adult and juvenile survival probability with Bayesian multi-state models and habitat-specific reproductive success with Bayesian nest survival models. We calculated asymptotic population growth rates from estimated demographic rates with matrix projection models. Adult and juvenile survival and nest success were highest in habitat created by summer wildfire, intermediate in MPB infestations, and lowest in habitat created by fall prescribed fire. Mean posterior distributions of population growth rates indicated growing populations in habitat created by summer wildfire and declining populations in fall prescribed fire and mountain pine beetle infestations. Our finding that population growth rates were positive only in habitat created by summer wildfire underscores the need to maintain early post-wildfire habitat across the landscape. The lower growth rates in fall prescribed fire and MPB infestations may be attributed to differences in predator communities and food resources relative to summer wildfire.

Keywords: black-backed woodpeckers, Picoides arcticus, wildfire, mountain pine beetle

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Rota, Christopher T.; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Rumble, Mark A.; Lehman, Chad P.; Kesler, Dylan C. 2014. The role of wildfire, prescribed fire, and mountain pine beetle infestations on the population dynamics of black-backed woodpeckers in the Black Hills, South Dakota. PLoS ONE. 9(4): e94700.

 


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