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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 1994

Woodpecker assemblages in natural and managed boreal and hemiboreal forest — a review

Angelstam, Per; Mikusinski, Grzegorz


Woodpecker species as a group require several properties (dead wood, old deciduous and large trees) that are characteristic of natural forest, the presence of which are not compatible with intensive forest management. The occurrence of many woodpecker species may thus indicate a high degree naturalness of forests. Using woodpeckers as indicators requires that we understand how these species were distributed in naturally dynamic landscapes, as well as quantitative knowledge of their requirements. We review the basic biology of boreal/hemiboreal woodpeckers and compare the degree of specialization of the different woodpecker species with their population trends and with changes in habitat distribution in the boreal/hemiboreal landscape over the last century. The comparison shows that there is a close connection between the degree of specialization of woodpeckers, the changes in forests and recent population trends. Thus woodpecker species as a group are in conflict with intensive forest management. To keep viable populations of all woodpecker species in a landscape existing values must be preserved and natural features be built into future forests. Future research should include studies of distribution, abundance, habitat niche breadth and fitness of different woodpecker species in landscapes with different degrees of naturalness.

Published in

Annales Zoologici Fennici
1994, volume: 31, number: 1, pages: 157-172

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife Ecology

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