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The snag’s the limit: Habitat selection modeling for the western purple martin in a managed forest landscape

October 23, 2020

The western purple martin (Progne subis arboricola), an avian insectivore, is a species of conservation concern throughout the Pacific Northwest. Compared to the well-studied eastern subspecies (Progne subis subis), little is known of the life history and biology of the western subspecies. Availability of breeding habitat is believed to be a major limiting factor for western purple martins in forested habitat, but fundamental information on their current distribution and selection of nesting habitat is deficient. To fill this gap, we compared habitat characteristics at three spatial scales (snag-level, stand-level [48.6 ha], landscape-level [314 ha]) surrounding nest snags occupied by purple martins in western Oregon to unoccupied sites. We found habitat for nesting purple martins was defined by the presence of moderately decayed snags with nest cavities, located well away from closed-canopy forest in sufficiently large (>15 ha) open areas. Our modeling efforts suggested suitable habitat was rare within the study region because: 1) snags were scarce on private industrial forest lands and 2) large disturbed patches were uncommon on federal lands. We conclude that a disturbance regime characterized by infrequent but major stand-replacing events, such as fire or timber harvest, is likely the key to maintaining breeding habitat for purple martins in upland forests in western Oregon.

    Citation Information

    Publication Year 2021
    Title The snag’s the limit: Habitat selection modeling for the western purple martin in a managed forest landscape
    DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118689
    Authors Lorelle M. Sherman, Joan Hagar
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Forest Ecology and Management
    Index ID 70216963
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
    USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center