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The Red-cockaded Woodpecker

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Surviving in a Fire-Maintained Ecosystem

Three of the leading experts on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker offer a comprehensive overview of all that is currently known about its biology and natural history and about the ecology of the fire-maintained forests it requires for survival.

Series: Corrie Herring Hooks Endowment, Number Forty-nine

January 2001
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
400 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 47 halftones, 40 maps/figures, 9 tables |

Though small among its woodpecker relatives, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker poses a huge dilemma for its human neighbors. Uniquely adapted to live in the old-growth pine forests of the southeastern United States, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker has nearly disappeared as the forests have been cleared for agricultural, commercial, and residential uses over the last two centuries. Today, it waits at a crossroads. Scientific management practices could restore the woodpecker's habitat and population, but the imperative to convert old-growth forests to other uses remains.

In this book, three of the leading experts on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker offer a comprehensive overview of all that is currently known about its biology and natural history and about the ecology of the fire-maintained forests it requires for survival. As the most visible endangered species in the Southeast, and the one whose conservation impacts the largest land area, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker holds a compelling interest not only for ornithologists, but also for wildlife managers, foresters, developers, environmentalists, and government officials. For all of these groups, this book will be the essential resource for learning more about the Red-cockaded Woodpecker and ensuring its survival.


Publication Award for Outstanding Book
Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society

  • Foreword by Frances C. James
  • Acknowledgments
  1. An Introduction
    • A Brief History
    • The Southern Pine Ecosystems
    • Change across the Landscape
    • Woodpecker Populations Plummet
    • The Tide Begins to Turn
    • An Unknown Future
  2. Fire-Maintained Pine Ecosystems
    • History of the Southeastern Forests
    • The Longleaf Pine Forest
    • Other Southern Pines
    • The Animal Community
    • A Summary Perspective
    • Threats to the Fire-Maintained Ecosystem
  3. Evolution, Taxonomy, and Morphology of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
    • Evolution
    • Taxonomy
    • Morphology
    • Parasites
  4. Red-cockaded Woodpecker Distribution: Past and Present
    • Distribution Prior to Recorded History
    • Recorded Historical Distribution
    • The Logging Era
    • The Modern Era
    • The Extent of Population Decline
    • The Current Population
  5. Cavity Trees in Fire-Maintained Southern Pine Ecosystems
    • Cavity Construction in Live Pines
    • Resin Wells
    • Cavity Competition and Kleptoparasitism
    • Cavity Tree Selection
    • The Cavity Tree Cluster
  6. Social Behavior and Population Biology
    • The Cooperative Breeding System
    • Evolution of the Social System
    • Population Dynamics
    • Population Viability
    • Reproduction
    • General Behavior
    • Territories and Aggression
    • Vocalizations
  7. Foraging Ecology of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
    • Foraging Substrates
    • Foraging Behavior
    • Diet
    • Sexual Dimorphism in Foraging Behavior
    • Foraging Requirements
    • Relationships with Other Insectivorous Birds
  8. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Bark Beetles: A Love-Hate Relationship
    • Forest Landscape Interactions
    • Dynamics of a Beetle Infestation
    • Beetle Epidemics
  9. The Causes of Population Declines
    • The Decline of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker as a Carrying Capacity Problem
    • The Role of Foraging Habitat
  10. Extinction, Legal Status, and History of Management
    • Extinction
    • Early Roots of Conservation Efforts
    • Designation of Endangered Status and Initial Guidelines
    • Expansion of Scientific Information and Refinement of Management Guidelines
    • Litigation
    • Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on Military Bases
    • Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Private Lands
    • The Dawn of a New Era
    • Development of New Woodpecker Management Guidelines
  11. State-of-the-Art Management
    • The New Management Strategy
    • The Optimistic and Pessimistic Futures
    • New Management Policies
  12. An Uncertain Future
    • Conflicts with Other Conservation Priorities
    • Conflicts with Other Land Use Priorities
    • Legal Challenges
    • Prospectus
  • Appendix. Common and Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in Text
  • Selected References and Additional Readings
  • Index

Richard N. Conner is Research Wildlife Biologist and D. Craig Rudolph is Research Ecologist at the U. S. Forest Service Southern Research Station in Nacogdoches, Texas. Jeffrey R. Walters is Bailey Professor of Biology at Virginia Tech.