Woodpeckers as surrogate species to support forest biodiversity conservation in a changing world
Convened by: Junior A. Tremblay, Pierre Drapeau, Kathy Martin
Forest ecosystems are facing diverse anthropogenic pressures, and impacts of climate change may amplify threats to the forest biodiversity. Indeed, land use change and associated habitat degradation have been cited as important causes of imperilment for many species in forest ecosystems. There are increasing needs for tools (or guidelines) to enable natural resources development and biodiversity conservation, and to be able to project these in regard to potential climate change impacts in forest ecosystems. Surrogate species are useful to setup system-based conservation planning that uses a species as an indicator of specific habitat characteristics. Then, surrogate species are used for comprehensive conservation planning based the ecological thresholds of focal species which support multiple species and habitats within a defined landscape or geographic area. Many species of woodpeckers act as key ecosystem engineers by facilitating the production of nesting and roosting cavities used by many secondary cavity users. Indeed, over 18% of birds globally use tree cavities; 25% of these are woodpeckers (excavators) that create these new habitats (nesting and roosting cavities). Woodpeckers have been identified as sensitive species to forest management in many jurisdictions, but without being fully integrated in applied guidelines.
In this symposium, we propose to present a suite of case studies in different forest ecosystems around the globe where woodpeckers are useful focal species to support sustainable management of natural resources in forest ecosystems. We will aim to integrate individual presentations as background to develop the case for using woodpeckers as surrogate species in forest ecosystems in the context of a changing climate with management recommendations for stakeholders and managers. Woodpeckers as surrogate species may help maximize conservation funding and increase the probability that biodiversity is conserved as they can both indicate healthy conditions, and improve the resource value of forests by creating additional habitat attributes (e.g., tree cavities).