Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Increase in woodpecker populations linked to feasting on emerald ash borer

Date:
August 8, 2013
Source:
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
Summary:
Entomologists have documented how an emerald ash borer invasion fueled a population boom for four species of birds in the Detroit area.

The scourge of forests, the emerald ash borer, or EAB, is usually described with words like "destructive" and "pest." A recent study based on data collected by citizen scientists suggests that one more adjective might apply, at least from a bird's perspective: "delicious."

Related Articles


In a study published this week in the journal Biological Invasions, U.S. Forest Service entomologist Andrew Liebhold and Cornell University scientist Walter Koenig and others document how an EAB invasion fueled a population boom for four species of birds in the Detroit area.

The four species of birds considered in the study "Effects of the emerald ash borer invasion on four species of birds" included three woodpeckers that are known to forage on EAB-infested ash trees -- the downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker -- as well as the white-breasted nuthatch, a common bark-gleaning species that is also a potential predator of EAB. All four species are cavity-nesters and also stand to benefit from an increase in nesting habitat as trees are killed by EAB.

"The emerald ash borer has been massively destructive because most North American ash trees have little or no defense against it," Liebhold said. "We can take heart that native woodpecker species are clearly figuring out that EAB is edible, and this new and widely abundant food source appears to be enhancing their reproduction."

Data used in the study were collected by volunteers for Project FeederWatch, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada project in which volunteers count birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locations from November through early April. The data helps scientists track movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

"Participants in citizen science projects contribute real, valuable data that allow us to tackle some major ecological questions related to invasive species, urbanization and habitat change, our changing climate, or other factors," according to David Bonter, Project Leader of Project Feederwatch and a co-author on the study. "FeederWatchers are a particularly dedicated group, contributing more than 4.2 million hours of observation since 1987 and allowing us to track changes in the abundance and distribution of birds across North America."

The study examined bird populations in an area about 25 miles west of downtown Detroit, where EAB was first discovered. Between the time EAB was first detected in 2002 and 2011, relative numbers of red-bellied woodpeckers and white-breasted nuthatches increased in abundance, scientists found. Populations of downy and hairy woodpeckers initially declined significantly and then fluctuated, however the downy woodpecker was at a significantly higher level relative to control sites during the 2009 bird survey season and hairy woodpecker populations were significantly higher during the 2011 season.

"Both for forests and urban trees, the emerald ash borer has been devastating," said Michael T. Rains, Director of the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station and Director of the Forest Products Laboratory. "The Forest Service is helping cities and states prepare for and recover from EAB invasion with research on the insect, ash trees' resistance to EAB, and biological control."

Researchers compared the abundance of the four bird species to their abundance in two sets of sites where the impact of EAB has not yet been severe. These areas included sites approximately 50-100 km from the EAB epicenter, where the insect had caused some tree mortality but considerably less than what occurred in the epicenter of the outbreak. They also looked at abundance in five Midwestern cities similar in size to Detroit where EAB had not yet caused major damage but in some cases had been reported.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Walter D. Koenig, Andrew M. Liebhold, David N. Bonter, Wesley M. Hochachka, Janis L. Dickinson. Effects of the emerald ash borer invasion on four species of birds. Biological Invasions, 2013; 15 (9): 2095 DOI: 10.1007/s10530-013-0435-x

Cite This Page:

USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station. "Increase in woodpecker populations linked to feasting on emerald ash borer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130808124229.htm>.
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station. (2013, August 8). Increase in woodpecker populations linked to feasting on emerald ash borer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130808124229.htm
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station. "Increase in woodpecker populations linked to feasting on emerald ash borer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130808124229.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani 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