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The importance of dead wood for hole-nesting birds: a two years study in three beech forests of central Italy

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This study explored the hole-nesting bird community for two years, in three beech forest stands of central Italy. Our experimental design involved 12 replicated sampling points in each study area for a total of 36 sampling points. Stand characteristics were measured through selected environmental variables (tree diameter, tree density, volume of dead wood, diversity of dead wood and canopy closure), to develop habitat models for describing the factors affecting the abundance of hole-nesting birds. We performed generalized linear models to determine which environmental variables better explained the presence and abundance of hole-nesting birds in the three study areas. The species that showed the highest values of abundance are the Nuthatch, the Blue Tit and the Great Tit. Within the guild of hole-nesting birds there are differences in the selection of suitable trees for nesting, roosting or foraging. Primary cavity nesters (woodpeckers) are mostly related to the presence of large trees, the volume of dead wood and tree height. The presence and abundance of secondary cavity nesters (tits, nuthatches and treecreepers) seem to be mostly influenced by diversity of dead wood. The diversity of dead wood is an important variable that influences the presence and abundance of hole-nesting birds. Maintenance of both living and standing dead wood in forest ecosystems is recommended to increase the effectiveness of conservation actions affecting the hole-nesting birds.

Affiliations: 1: cCFS Centro Nazionale per lo Studio e la Conservazione della Biodiversità Forestale “Bosco Fontana” di Verona, Marmirolo, MN, Italy ; 2: bDepartment of Sciences, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy ; 3: aConsiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, Centro di Ricerca per l’Agrobiologia e la Pedologia (CREA-ABP), Firenze, Italy ; 4: d“Torre Flavia” LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) Station, Environmental Service, Rome, Italy


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