Relationship between vegetation structure and abundance of Great-spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) in a mosaic habitat

Gábor Ónodi 1  and Tibor Csörgő 2
  • 1 Institute of Wildlife Management and Vertebrate Zoology, University of West Hungary, 9400 Sopron, Ady Endre utca 5., Hungary
  • 2 Department of Anatomy, Cell- and Developmental Biology, Eötvös Loránd University, 1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c, Hungary


This study was made in a postglacial relic bog in the Ócsa Protected Landscape Area in Hungary. Secondary succession of vegetation began after peat extraction and a grove-like forest evolved. Among the eight woodpecker species that occur in this area, the Great-spotted Woodpecker is the most abundant with the largest amount of data, it is for this reason we chose this species to study. The aims of this work were to detect changes in the abundance of the study species in relation to forest succession; to examine the seasonal patterns of these changes in abundance, and to identify any relationship between the height of the trees near the nets and the number of captured birds. We used the data from 1411 mist-netted Great-spotted Woodpeckers (1984- 2010), which were captured at the Ócsa Bird Ringing Station (120 standard mist nets). The assessment of forest succession rates were based on aerial photos (1979-2010). We measured the height of the vegetation, at 12 points, near each 12 m long net. Population growth of Great-spotted Woodpeckers was significantly correlated with the rate of afforestation. The majority of birds occurred only during the dispersal period. The pattern of the captures correlated well with the vegetation structure, not just with height, but also with vegetation quality as well

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Carlson, A., Sandström, U. & Olsson, K. 1998. Availability and use of natural tree holes by cavity nesting birds in a Swedish deciduous forest. - Ardea 86: 109-119.

  • Conner, R. N., Shackelford, C. E., Schaefer, R. R., Saenz, D. & Rudolph, D. C. 2002. Avian community response to southern pine ecosystem restoration for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. - Wilson Bulletin 114(3): 324-332. doi: 10.1676/0043-5643(2002)114[0324:ACRTSP]2.0.CO;2

  • Cramp, S. 1985. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 4. - Oxford University Press, Oxford ISBN 978-0198575078 pp. 960

  • del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. - Lynx Edicions, Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-37-7 pp. 613

  • Drapeau, P., Leduc, A., Giroux, J-F., Savard, J-P.L., Bergeron, Y. & Vickery, W. L. 2000. Landscape- scale disturbances and changes in bird communities of boreal mixed-wood forests. - Ecological Monographs 70(3): 423-444. doi: 10.1890/ 0012-9615(2000)070[0423:LSDACI]2.0.CO;2

  • Fink, A. D., Thompson, F. R. & Tudor, A. A. 2006. Songbird use of regenerating forest, glade, and edge habitat types. - Journal of Wildlife Management 70(1): 180-188. doi: 10.2193/ 0022-541X(2006)70[180:SUORFG]2.0.CO;2

  • Franz, I., Cappelatti, L. & Barros, M. P. 2010. Bird community in a forest patch isolated by the urban matrix at the Sinos River basin, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil, with comments on the possible local defaunation. - Brazilian Journal of Biology 70(4): 1137-1148. doi: 10.1590/S1519-69842 010000600002

  • Gorman, G. 2004. Woodpeckers of Europe. A study of the European Picidae. - Published by Bruce Coleman ISBN 1-872842-05-4 pp. 192

  • Gorman, G. 2011. The Black Woodpecker. A monograph on Dryocopus martius. - Lynx Edicions, Barcelona pp. 184

  • Herrando, S., Brotons, L., Guallar, S., Sales, S. & Pons, P. 2009. Postfire forest management and Mediterranean birds: the importance of the logging remnants. - Biodiversity and Conservation 18(8): 2153-2164. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9579-5

  • Howe, R. W. 1984. Local dynamics of bird assemblages in small forest habitat islands in Australia and North America. - Ecology 65(5): 1585-1601.

  • Kesler, D. C. & Walters, J. R. 2012. Social composition of destination territories and matrix habitat affect Red-cockaded Woodpecker dispersal. - The Journal of Wildlife Management 76(5): 1028-1035. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.330

  • MacGregor-Fors, I., Blanco-Garcia, A. & Lindig-Cisneros, R. 2010. Bird community shifts related to different forest restoration efforts: A case study from a managed habitat matrix in Mexico. - Ecological Engineering 36(10): 1492-1496. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2010.06.001

  • Machmer, M. 2002. Effects of ecosystem restoration treatments on cavity-nesting birds, their habitat, and their insectivorous prey in fire-maintained forests of southeastern British Columbia. - US Forest Service General Technical Report PSW 181 (August): 121-133.

  • Mannan, R. W., Meslow, E. C. & Wight, H. M. 1980. Use of snags by birds in Douglas-fir forests, Western Oregon. - Journal of Wildlife Management 44(4): 787-797.

  • McWethy, D. B., Hansen, A. J. & Verschuyl, J. P. 2009. Edge effects for songbirds vary with forest productivity. - Forest Ecology and Management 257(2): 665-678. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2008.09.046

  • Moore, C. T. & Conroy, M. J. 2006. Optimal regeneration planning for old-growth forest: addressing scientific uncertainty in endangered species recovery through adaptive management. - Forest Science 52(2): 155-172.

  • Ónodi, G. & Csörgő, T. 2011. Relation between forestation and the woodpecker community. - 12th European Ecological Federation Congress, Avila, Spain - poster 9.21.

  • Ónodi, G. & Csörgő, T. 2012a A nagy fakopáncs (Dendrocopos major Linnaeus, 1758) élőhely preferenciája nagy mozaikosságú élőhelyen [The habitat preference of the Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major Linnaeus, 1758) in a mosaic habitat]. - Terrmészetvédelmi Közlemények 18: 402-414. (In Hungarian with English Summary)

  • Ónodi, G. & Csörgő, T. 2012b Relation between vegetation structure and Great-spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) in a mosaical habitat. - 4th International Eurasian Ornithology Congress, Baja, Hungary - abstract 26.

  • Ónodi, G. & Csörgő, T. 2012c The habitat preference of the Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major Linnaeus, 1758). - 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology, Glasgow, UK - poster 46.3

  • Plentovich, S., Tucker, Jr. J. W. & Holler, N. R. 1998. Enhancing Bachman’s Sparrow habitat via management of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. - The Journal of Wildlife Management 62(1): 347-354.

  • Reed, J. M. 1990. The dynamics of Red-cockaded Woodpecker rarity and conservation. - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife Ecology, Uppsala - Report 17. 1st International Woodpecker Symposium, Uppsala 37-56.

  • Swanson, M. E., Franklin, J. F., Beschta, R. L., Crisafulli, C. M., DellaSala, D. A., Hutto, R. L., Lindenmayer, D. B. & Swanson, F. J. 2011. The forgotten stage of forest succession: early-successional ecosystems on forest sites. - Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 9(2): 117-125. doi: 10.1890/090157

  • Székely, T. 1987. Foraging behaviour of woodpeckers (Dendrocopos spp.), Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) and treecreeper (Certhia sp.) in winter and spring. - Ekologia Polska 35: 101-114.

  • Török, J. 2009. Nagy fakopáncs [Great-spotted Woodpecker]. - In: Csörgő, T., Karcza, Zs., Halmos, G., Magyar, G., Gyurácz, J., Szép, T., Bankovics, A., Schmidt, A. & Schmidt, E. (eds.) 2009. Magyar madárvonulási atlasz [Hungarian bird migration atlas]. - Kossuth Kiadó, Budapest ISBN 978-963-09-5865-3 pp. 391-392. (In Hungarian with English Summary)

  • Wesolowski, T. 2007. Lessons from long-term hole-nester studies in a primeval temperate forest. - Journal of Ornithology 148(Suppl. 2): 395-405. doi: 10.1007/s10336-007-0198-1

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

  • Zarnowitz, J. E. & Manuwal, D. A. 1985. The effects of forest management on cavity-nesting birds in Northwestern Washington. - Journal of Wildlife Management 49(1): 255-263.


Journal + Issues