Preservation of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat Essay

Preservation of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat Essay

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Preservation of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat


Ever since 1973, when the Endangered Species Act came into being, conservationists and private landowners have been debating over whether to preserve the habitats of many endangered species found in unprotected areas (Ligon et al, 1986). Increasing levels of human development has led to the cutting of old-growth forests and construction of roads and other physical barriers to wildlife. These activities have greatly contributed to the fragmentation of wildlife habitat, which has had detrimental effects on the population structure and survivorship of the affected area’s indigenous species. One species that has been affected by habitat fragmentation is the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis), a nonmigratory bird with a home range covering most of the southeastern United States (Roise et al, 1990). Habitat fragmentation has led to the loss of genetic variability, nesting sites, and suitable population sizes to support cooperative breeding requirements. These factors have been responsible for the precipitous decline of the red-cockaded woodpecker. Because the red-cockaded woodpecker provides important ecological and economic benefits to both humans and the environment, we should strongly consider enacting a conservation plan for this species.

The red-cockaded woodpecker, an inhabitant of mature pine forests and pine-grassland ecosystems from Maryland to eastern Texas, has had a troubled history within the last decade (Roise et al, 1990). Ten years ago, James documented a population decline in America’s largest remaining red-cockaded woodpecker population (1991). Of the 2,157 clusters, or living groups, contained in national forests, 693 of them were located in Florid...


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...ed, J. M., Walters, J. R., Emigh, T. E., and Seaman, D. E. 1993. Effective population size in Red-cockaded Woodpeckers: population and model differences. Conservation Biology. 7(2):302-308.

Roise, J., Chung, J., Lancia, R., and Lennartz, M. 1990. Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat and timber management: production possibilities. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 14(1):6-12.

Stangel, P. W., Lennartz, M. R., and Smith, M. H. 1992. Genetic variation and population structure of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Conservation Biology. 6(2):283-292.

US Geological Survey. April 2000. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/ resource/1998/forest/species/picobore.htm

Wilson, C. W., Masters, R. E., and Bukenhofer, G. A. 1995. Breeding bird response to pine-grassland community restoration for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Journal of Wildlife Management. 59(1):56-67.

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