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Effects of military activity on reproductive success of red-cockaded woodpeckers

Doresky, John, Morgan, Ken, Ragsdale, Laura, Townsend, Howard, Barron, Michael, West, Mark
Journal of field ornithology 2001 v.72 no.2 pp. 305-311
Picoides borealis, adults, basal area, biological assessment, eggs, military lands, military personnel, nestlings, understory, vibration, woodpeckers, Georgia
Although significant numbers of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) occur at military installations, little research has been initiated to determine what effects military activities have on the birds. From 1994–1996 we collected data at Ft. Benning Military Installation, Georgia, to assess the effects of selected military activities on reproductive success of the birds. Noise and vibration levels were recorded at or directly adjacent to active woodpecker clusters that received significant use by the military on a regular basis (i.e., firing of small arms and artillery). Identical data were collected at active clusters that were not normally used by military personnel and that we perceived to be relatively free of such disturbances. Surprisingly, we found no significant differences in noise or vibration levels between treatments and controls. There also were no significant differences between treatment and control sites with regard to the numbers of eggs, nestlings, adults, return rates of adults feeding young, or masses of nestlings and adults. Habitat assessments revealed no differences in basal area or midstory density; however, understory was significantly more pronounced at treatment sites.