A dendroecological investigation of red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) cavity trees

Authors: April Kaiser*, Appalachian State, Peter Soulé, Appalachian State University, Saskia van de Gevel, Appalachian State University, Paul Knapp, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Arvind Bhuta, USDA Forest Service, Jeffrey Walters, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Evan Montpellier, Appalachian State University
Topics: Biogeography, Environmental Science, Natural Resources
Keywords: Dendroecology, Longleaf Pine, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Conservation
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Old-growth longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a keystone species for 29 threatened or endangered species in the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. Red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis; RCW) and longleaf pine have an established ecological association. In this study we explore differences in radial growth disturbance events and climate-growth response in trees with RCW cavities compared to non-cavity trees in the Sandhills Gameland Reserve. This 60,000 acre nature reserve located in Hoffman, North Carolina contains one of the most well-recovered RCW populations and provides a unique opportunity to also explore cavity tree characteristics. Specifically, we compare heartwood and sapwood ratios, diameters at breast height (DBH), and tree age between the RCW cavity and non-RCW trees. We hope to foster a better understanding of why red-cockaded woodpeckers select specific longleaf pine trees for cavities and how these cavities influence longleaf pine radial growth and climate sensitivity. With this additional and new knowledge, proper conservation regulations for both endangered species should improve.

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