Modeling nest survival of cavity-nesting birds in relation to postfire salvage logging

Authors


  • Associate Editor: Leonard Brennan.

Abstract

Salvage logging practices in recently burned forests often have direct effects on species associated with dead trees, particularly cavity-nesting birds. As such, evaluation of postfire management practices on nest survival rates of cavity nesters is necessary for determining conservation strategies. We monitored 1,797 nests of 6 cavity-nesting bird species: Lewis's woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis), hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus), black-backed woodpecker (P. arcticus), northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), western bluebird (Sialia mexicana), and mountain bluebird (S. currucoides) from 1994 to 2004 in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), mixed-severity burned forests (partially logged and unlogged) of Idaho, USA. Based on a priori hypotheses, we modeled daily survival rate (DSR) of nests as a function of abiotic (temperature, precipitation), temporal (time since fire, calendar year) and biotic factors (distance to unburned forest, nest height, and tree harvest [partial-salvage logging vs. unlogged]). Multiple abiotic and biotic factors, other than direct effects of salvage logging, affected daily survival rates of breeding cavity-nesting birds. Hairy woodpecker was the only species in which partial-salvage logging had a measurable, negative impact on DSR. Managers implementing carefully planned salvage logging prescriptions that include both unlogged reserves and partially logged areas can expect to maintain habitat for successfully breeding cavity-nesting birds of the interior northwestern United States. Our results also suggest that nest survival for some species of cavity-nesting birds could be improved if unlogged reserves are located centrally in postfire forests, distant from unburned habitats that potentially serve as sources of nest predators. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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