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Modeling Black-Backed Woodpecker Habitat Suitability and Prioritizing Stands for Retention at The Rim Fire

Presenters: Rodney Siegel, Executive Director and research scientist at The Institute for Bird Populations, and Morgan Tingley, Researcher at Princeton University.                  

Description: Black-backed Woodpeckers colonize and occupy recently burned conifer forests across much of California. Burned forests selected by Black-backed Woodpeckers are often targeted with salvage logging or other management strategies involving removal of snags. We used results from two Black-backed Woodpecker studies we conducted across ten National Forests in California to develop a habitat suitability model that predicts Black-backed Woodpecker pair density in recently burned forests, and then we applied the model to the area burned by the Rim Fire on Stanislaus National Forest. Our aim was to provide a tool allowing land managers to a) make forest management decisions while accounting for the expected affects on Black-backed Woodpeckers, and b) identify for possible retention the particular forest stands that would be most valuable to Black-backed Woodpeckers. Although we focused on the Rim fire, our model can be applied similarly to assist with post-fire planning efforts at other fires throughout Black-backed Woodpecker’s range in California.          

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