Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Woodpeckers Carry Fungus In Beaks That Promotes Tree Decay

Date:
February 12, 2004
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
A new study in the journal Condor by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Arkansas State University suggests that a woodpecker's beak is a virtual petri dish of fungal spores that play a key role in the decay of dead trees, or "snags."

NEW YORK (FEB. 10, 2004) -- A new study in the journal Condor by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Arkansas State University suggests that a woodpecker's beak is a virtual petri dish of fungal spores that play a key role in the decay of dead trees, or "snags."

Related Articles


The authors examined several species of woodpeckers living in ponderosa pine forests in northern California and Oregon, finding that over 60 percent of the sampled birds nesting in tree cavities had a variety of wood-inhabiting fungi living in their beaks.

These fungi serve a critical role in the decomposition of dead trees and influence how they are used by wildlife. Without adequate decay, woodpeckers are unable to excavate nest cavities – vital components of forests that serve as nesting sites to a variety of wildlife.

"Our study shows that woodpeckers are really the architects and landlords of the forest," said WCS scientist Kerry Farris, the study's lead author. "Their activities play a key role in how snags decay and are used by other species."

Woodpeckers initially puncture dead and dying trees in search of bark beetles and other wood-boring insects, a process that creates holes in wood that serve as infection sites for airborne fungal spores. As the birds return to these holes to feed, or to excavate them further for nesting, they pick up the fungi in their beaks, then help spread the spores by foraging on other dead trees.

While some forestry practices on public and private lands allocate a certain number of snags per acre for wildlife use, some recent federal policies call for removing snags because of their perceived risk in forest fires. The authors say that more factors need to be taken into consideration than just density or spatial arrangement of snags.

"Our research illustrates the numerous agents contributing to the complexity of snag decomposition and eventual cavity generation by woodpeckers," Farris said. "Forest management could benefit from a consideration of these processes when managing snags on public and private lands."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Woodpeckers Carry Fungus In Beaks That Promotes Tree Decay." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212090015.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2004, February 12). Woodpeckers Carry Fungus In Beaks That Promotes Tree Decay. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212090015.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Woodpeckers Carry Fungus In Beaks That Promotes Tree Decay." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212090015.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins