Nest Site Selection by Red-Naped Sapsuckers : Influence of Willow Proximity, Aspen Heartwood Rot Fungus, and Other Ecological Factors.
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Woodpeckers are considered ecosystem engineers because they excavate nest cavities that eventually provide habitat for other cavity nesting species. In aspen (Populustremuloides) woodlands of the southern Rocky Mountains, red-naped sapsuckers (Sphyrapicusnuchalis) are the predominant woodpecker, providing essential nest cavities for multiple bird species. Previous work indicated that sapsuckers avoid nesting in aspens far (>500m) from willows. However, previous work did not account for potentially confounding effects of other variables such as the prevalence of the heartwood rot fungus, Phellinustremulae.