Great Plains Natural Science Society


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 47:21–29; 2016


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus, [BBWO]) and American three-toed woodpeckers (P. dorsalis, [ATTW]) are uncommon inhabitants of conifer forests and are sympatric in some areas, including the Black Hills. Both species exhibit genetic characteristics associated with isolated populations, are species of special management concern, and for which data are lacking concerning populations and habitats. We developed resource selection models of forest vegetation within 500 m radius plots (78.5 ha) for BBWOs and ATTWs to provide forest managers with stand-level information to estimate how forest management might affect habitat for these species in the Black Hills. Relative probability of selection by BBWOs increased with greater area of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stands 41–70% overstory canopy cover up to approximately 20% (16 ha) of the surrounding area then declined when these stands comprised greater than 20% of the area. Relative probability of selection by ATTWs increased with greater area of white spruce (Picea glauca) up to a maximum of approximately 66% (50 ha) of the surrounding area and subsequently declined when white spruce comprised greater than 66% of the surrounding area. Increased area of aspen (Populus temuloides) stands increased the relative probability of selection by ATTWs. During a period when the Black Hills lacked extensive disturbance from fire or insect infestation, BBWPs selected areas that were managed for moderate overstory canopy of ponderosa pine and ATTWs selected stands with large diameter spruce and aspen at the higher elevations that were not extensively harvested.