The Role of Wildfire, Prescribed Fire, and Mountain Pine Beetle Infestations on the Population Dynamics of Black-Backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills, South Dakota

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Wildfire and mountain pine beetle infestations are naturally occurring disturbances in western North American forests. Black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) are emblematic of the role these disturbances play in creating wildlife habitat, since they are strongly associated with recently-killed forests. However, management practices aimed at reducing the economic impact of natural disturbances can result in habitat loss for this species. Although black-backed woodpeckers occupy habitats created by wildfire, prescribed fire, and mountain pine beetle infestations, the relative value of these habitats remains unknown. This study looks at habitat-specific adult and juvenile survival probabilities and reproductive rates between April 2008 and August 2012 in the Black Hills, South Dakota. 

Image Source: Black Hills & Badlands