Relationship of coarse woody debris to arthropod availability for red-cockaded woodpeckers and other bark-foraging birds on loblolly pine boles
This study determined if short-term removal of coarse woody debris would reduce prey available to red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis Vieillot) and other bark-foraging 1 birds at the Savannah River Site in Aiken and Barnwell counties, SC. All coarse woody debris was removed from four 9-ha plots of mature loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) in 1997 and again in 1998. We sampled arthropods in coarse woody debris removal and control stands using crawl traps that captured arthropods crawling up tree boles, burlap bands wrapped around trees, and cardboard panels placed on the ground. We captured 27 orders and 172 families of arthropods in crawl traps whereas 20 arthropod orders were observed under burlap bands and cardboard panels. The most abundant insects collected from crawl traps were aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) and ants (Hymenoptera: Forrnicidae). The greatest biomass was in the wood cockroaches (Blattaria: Blattellidae), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) in the Family Noctuidae, and adult weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). The most common group observed underneath cardboard panels was lsoptera (termites), and the most common taxon under burlap bands was wood cockroaches. Overall, arthropod abundance and biomass captured in crawl traps was similar in control and removal plots. In contrast, we observed more arthropods under burlap bands (mean & SE; 3,021.5 k 348.6, P= 0.03) and cardboard panels (3,537.25 k 432.4, P= 0.04) in plots with coarse woody debris compared with burlap bands (2325 + 171.3) and cardboard panels (2439.75 + 288.9) in plots where coarse woody debris was removed. Regression analyses showed that abundance beneath cardboard panels was positively correlated with abundance beneath burlap bands demonstrating the link between abundance on the ground with that on trees. Our results demonstrate that short-term removal of coarse woody debris from pine forests reduced overall arthropod availability to bark-foraging birds.