Site prioritization of current and potential red-cockaded woodpecker habitat in the Onslow Bight Landscape

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2023-04-27

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Abstract

The red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) has been listed as endangered for over 50 years. This is most notably due to a lack of habitat, as they prefer to roost in old-growth longleaf pine forests, a landscape that once covered the region, but is now extremely fragmented and sparse. The Onslow Bight Landscape is home to some of the largest remaining populations of RCW in North Carolina. This project aimed to (1) determine the likelihood of 55 parcels of interest to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust (NCCLT) having suitable habitat for RCW, and (2) prioritize those parcels based on a set of four criteria to aid in the recovery of RCW through appropriate land acquisition. Thirty-five parcels were found to contain suitable habitat for RCW based on forest structure and soil type, but only 10 parcels had at least 10% of their total area as suitable. Two parcels were deemed as having a high RCW conservation value, while 40 received a moderate score, and 13 a low score. The results from this project provide NCCLT with an accurate estimate of current RCW habitat on their parcels of interest across the Onslow Bight landscape. These results will also help secure funding for the acquisition and continued management of these parcels, and provide a useful toolbox in understanding each parcel’s ecological structure to inform management decisions and help predict the presence of other important species in the future.

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Brockington, Laura (2023). Site prioritization of current and potential red-cockaded woodpecker habitat in the Onslow Bight Landscape. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27152.


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