|Scientific Name:||Picoides borealis|
|Species Authority:||(Vieillot, 1809)|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Vulnerable C1+2a(i) ver 3.1|
|Reviewer/s:||Butchart, S. & Symes, A.|
|Contributor/s:||Jackson, J. & McDearman, W.|
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because the remaining population could be small and declining, as previously estimated. Recent data, however, suggest that the population size is now above the threshold for Vulnerable and that population trends have reversed, and should this be confirmed the species may warrant downlisting in the future.
|Range Description:||This species was originally distributed throughout south-east USA, but in 1999 it was limited to c.30 isolated populations (the largest in South Carolina and Florida), totalling c.4,700 groups or c.11,000 individuals and occupying just 4,000 km2 (Jackson 1994, Guynn 1997, J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Between 1980 and 1990, it declined by at least 23%, with 50% of groups in just six populations (James 1995). However, the most recent data suggest that the population may be larger than previously estimated and may now be stable or increasing (Department of Defense/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in litt. 2006, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2008, W. McDearman in litt. 2010).|
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||Guynn (1997), Jackson (1994) and J. A. Jackson (in litt. 1999) estimated the population to number 10,000-11,000 individuals, suggesting the number of mature individuals may fall below 10,000. Although more recent data suggests that the population may now be well above 10,000 mature individuals (Department of Defense and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in litt. 2006), a figure of 9,000-11,000 mature individuals is precautionarily retained.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||It inhabits fire-sustained open pine-forest, dominated in half of its range by longleaf pine Pinus palustris and elsewhere by shortleaf P. echinata, slash P. elliotti, or loblolly P. taeda pines (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). It is a cooperative breeder, with each group requiring at least 80 ha of habitat. Nests are in cavities of living old-growth trees (100+ years old) and eggs are laid from late April to early June (Winkler et al. 1995). Foraging habitat preferences differ between the sexes and females are negatively influenced by the loss of old-growth trees (Jackson 2000). One study showed that adults were heavier, and both adults and nestlings apparently sourced more food in shortleaf and loblolly pine habitats than in longleaf pine forest (Schaefer et al. 2004).|
|Major Threat(s):||Long-term clearance and economic management of habitat has reduced the viability of all populations. The excessive cutting of old-growth forests is reported to be still taking place in some areas (J. A. Jackson in litt. 2012). Fragmentation has isolated nest-sites, making abandonment or group extirpation increasingly likely (Thomlinson 1995). Inbreeding depression has been highlighted as a potentially serious problem in small and isolated populations (Schiegg et al. 2006). Exempting landowners from the Endangered Species Act has resulted in rapid declines on private land (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Translocating birds to federal lands may swamp locally adapted gene pools (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Southern pine beetle Dendroctonus frontalis infests cavities and kills nesting trees (Conner and Rudolph 1995) (although they have a positive effect on woodpecker foraging both as a food item, and by creating arthropod rich dead-wood habitat [Schaefer et al. 2004]). Beetle infestations have increased since habitat management for the woodpecker started in 1988, suggesting a possible connection (Conner and Rudolph 1995). Pileated Woodpeckers Dryocopus pileatus damage cavities (Saenz et al. 1998). Fire management (involving regular burning) has aided habitat restoration, but as human populations expand there is increasing pressure to suppress fires.|
Conservation Actions Underway
The emphasis has been on site-specific rather than ecosystem-level management (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Intensive activities include translocating young females from natal sites to groups lacking a female, constructing artificial cavities (Jackson 1994), and fitting restrictor plates to prevent D. pileatus enlarging cavities (Saenz et al. 1998). Habitat is managed (regular burning and understorey clearance) on some federal lands, but not always appropriately (Jackson 1994). In South Carolina the "Safe Harbor" scheme offers financial incentives to private landowners who undertake beneficial management prescriptions (Duncan et al. 2001). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor populations, especially where managed. Implement ecosystem-level management (James 1995). Provide incentives for landowners to maintain/enhance habitat (Kennedy et al. 1996, Bonnie 1997). Fit restrictor plates only where cavities are scarce (Saenz et al. 1998). Document and monitor translocations (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Replace even-aged forest management with selective or no cutting (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999). Establish habitat corridors (e.g. along highways) (Jackson 1994).
|Citation:||BirdLife International 2012. Picoides borealis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 May 2013.|
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