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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Dead wood threshold values for the three-toed woodpecker presence in boreal and sub-Alpine forest

Bütler, R.; Angelstam, Per; Ekelund, P.; Schlaepfer, R.


Predicting species' responses to habitat loss is a significant challenge facing conservation biologists. We examined the response of both European three-toed woodpecker subspecies Picoides tridactylus tridactylus and P. tr. alpinus to different amounts of dead wood in a boreal and a sub-Alpine coniferous forest landscape in central Sweden and Switzerland, respectively. Habitat variables were measured by fieldwork in forests with breeding woodpeckers (n = 10 + 12) and in control forests without breeding woodpeckers (n = 10 + 12) in the same landscape. Logistic regression analyses revealed steep thresholds for the amount of dead standing trees and the probability of three-toed woodpecker presence in both Sweden and Switzerland. The probability of the presence of three-toed woodpeckers increased from 0.10 to 0.95 when snag basal area increased from 0.6 to 1.3 m(2) ha(-1) in Switzerland and from 0.3 to 0.5 m(2) ha(-1) in central Sweden. In Switzerland, a high road network density was negatively correlated to the presence of woodpeckers (r = -0.65, p = 0.0007). The higher volumes of dead wood in Switzerland, where population trends are more positive, than in central Sweden, where the population is declining, would suggest that the volumes of dead wood in managed forests in Sweden are too low to sustain three-toed woodpeckers in the long-term. In terms of management implications, we suggest a quantitative target of at least 5% of standing trees in older forests being dead over at least 100 ha large forest areas. This corresponds about to greater than or equal to1.3 m(2) ha(-1) (basal area) or greater than or equal to15 m(3) ha(-1) (volume), still depending on site productivity. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


dead wood; snag; Picoides tridactylus; conservation; forest management

Published in

Biological Conservation
2004, volume: 119, number: 3, pages: 305-318

Authors' information

Bütler, R.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EFPL)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Conservation Biology
Örebro University
Ekelund, P.
Örebro University
Schlaepfer, R.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EFPL)

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