Heartwood, sapwood, and fungal decay associated with red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees

Abstract

Provision of suitable sites for red-cockaded woodpecker (Picotdes borealis) cavity excavation is essential for successful management of the woodpecker. To evaluate internal characteristics of pines used by the woodpecker, we increment-cored longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) to determine heartwood diameter, sapwood thickness, and presence of fungal heartwood decay at 1.3, 6.0, 9.0, and 12.0 m aboveground in 53 red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees and 53 similar control pines in eastern Texas. Red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees had thinner sapwood and greater heartwood diameter at all heights than did control trees (P < 0.05). Cavity and control trees were similar in height (P = 0.38) and bole length (P = 0.51), but cavity trees were larger (51.1 vs. 48.4 cm diam at breast height [dbh], P = 0.046), older (124.5 vs. 98.5 yr, P < O.OOl), and were growing with less vigor (P < 0.001) than were control pines. Red-cockaded woodpeckers require approximately 15-cm diameter of heartwood in which to excavate cavities. Longleaf pines 70-90 years old had sufficient heartwood to house cavities at 6 and 9m aboveground. Only pines exceeding 90-110 years in age had sufficient heartwood present for cavity excavation at 12 m. However, unlike prior studies, heartwood decay was not detected until trees were > 100 years and did not occur with any regularity until pines were >120 years.

  • Citation: Conner, Richard N.; Rudolph, D. Craig; Saenz, Daniel; Schaefer, Richard R. 1994. Heartwood, sapwood, and fungal decay associated with red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees. Journal of Wildlife Management. 58(4): 728-734.

Requesting Print Publications

Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.

Please make any requests at pubrequest@fs.fed.us.

Publication Notes

  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
  • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.