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Secondhand homes: Woodpecker cavity location and structure influences secondary nester’s success.
  • +3
  • Faith Hardin,
  • Samantha Leivers,
  • Jacquelyn Grace,
  • Tyler Campbell,
  • Brian Pierce,
  • Michael Morrison
Faith Hardin
Texas A and M University College Station
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Samantha Leivers
Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University
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Jacquelyn Grace
Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
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Tyler Campbell
East Foundation
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Brian Pierce
Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University
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Michael Morrison
Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
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Abstract

1. Understanding how ecosystem engineers influence other organisms has long been a goal of ecologists. Woodpeckers select nesting sites with high food availability and will excavate and then abandon multiple cavities throughout their lifetime. These cavities are crucial to secondary cavity nesting birds (SCB) that are otherwise limited by the availability of naturally occurring cavities. 2. Our study examined the influence of food resources on the nest site location and home-range size of woodpeckers, and the subsequent influence of woodpeckers on the nesting success of SCB. 3. Using five years of avian point count data to locate golden-fronted woodpeckers (GFWO), we correlated insect availability with GFWO home range size, determined differences in insect availability between GFWO occupied and unoccupied sites, and compared nesting success for the GFWO and common SCB in south Texas. We used model averaging to fit species-specific logistic regression models to predict nest success based on cavity metrics across all species. 4. Sites occupied by GFWO had a higher biomass of insects in orders Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Orthoptera than unoccupied sites, and there was a negative correlation between the availability of these insect orders and home-range size. GFWO nest success increased with vegetation cover and lower levels of tree decay. SCB had higher levels of nesting success in abandoned GFWO, and in trees with lower levels of nest tree decay. 5. Our results suggest that SCB may be drawn to nest in abandoned woodpecker cavities where they have higher rates of nest success compared to natural cavities. Additionally, the prevalence for GFWO to excavate cavities in trees with lower levels of decay contradicts previous literature, and may indicate a novel temperature trade-off, with live trees requiring more energy to excavate, but providing increased protection from high breeding season temperatures in arid and semi-arid areas.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

08 Oct 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
09 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
09 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
14 Oct 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
31 Oct 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Nov 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
06 Apr 20211st Revision Received
07 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
07 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
07 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Apr 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
01 Jun 20212nd Revision Received
02 Jun 2021Submission Checks Completed
02 Jun 2021Assigned to Editor
02 Jun 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
30 Jun 2021Editorial Decision: Accept