Habitat suitability and nest survival of white-headed woodpeckers in unburned forests of Oregon


  • Associate Editor: David King.


We evaluated habitat suitability and nest survival of breeding white-headed woodpeckers (Picoides albolarvatus) in unburned forests of central Oregon, USA. Daily nest-survival rate was positively related to maximum daily temperature during the nest interval and to density of large-diameter trees surrounding the nest tree. We developed a niche-based habitat suitability model (partitioned Mahalanobis distance) for nesting white-headed woodpeckers using remotely sensed data. Along with low elevation, high density of large trees, and low slope, our habitat suitability model suggested that interspersion–juxtaposition of low- and high-canopy cover ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) patches was important for nest-site suitability. Cross-validation suggested the model performed adequately for management planning at a scale >1 ha. Evaluation of mapped habitat suitability index (HSI) suggested that the maximum predictive gain (HSI = 0.36), where the number of nest locations are maximized in the smallest proportion of the modeled landscape, provided an objective initial threshold for identification of suitable habitat. However, managers can choose the threshold HSI most appropriate for their purposes (e.g., locating regions of low–moderate suitability that have potential for habitat restoration). Consequently, our habitat suitability model may be useful for managing dry coniferous forests for white-headed woodpeckers in central Oregon; however, model validation is necessary before our model could be applied to other locations. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.