Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Woodpeckers: There’s a fungus among us

11.02.2004


Woodpeckers carry fungus in beaks that promotes tree decay



A new study in the journal Condor by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Arkansas State University suggests that a woodpecker’s beak is a virtual petri dish of fungal spores that play a key role in the decay of dead trees, or "snags."

The authors examined several species of woodpeckers living in ponderosa pine forests in northern California and Oregon, finding that over 60 percent of the sampled birds nesting in tree cavities had a variety of wood-inhabiting fungi living in their beaks.


These fungi serve a critical role in the decomposition of dead trees and influence how they are used by wildlife. Without adequate decay, woodpeckers are unable to excavate nest cavities – vital components of forests that serve as nesting sites to a variety of wildlife.

"Our study shows that woodpeckers are really the architects and landlords of the forest," said WCS scientist Kerry Farris, the study’s lead author. "Their activities play a key role in how snags decay and are used by other species."

Woodpeckers initially puncture dead and dying trees in search of bark beetles and other wood-boring insects, a process that creates holes in wood that serve as infection sites for airborne fungal spores. As the birds return to these holes to feed, or to excavate them further for nesting, they pick up the fungi in their beaks, then help spread the spores by foraging on other dead trees.

While some forestry practices on public and private lands allocate a certain number of snags per acre for wildlife use, some recent federal policies call for removing snags because of their perceived risk in forest fires. The authors say that more factors need to be taken into consideration than just density or spatial arrangement of snags.

"Our research illustrates the numerous agents contributing to the complexity of snag decomposition and eventual cavity generation by woodpeckers," Farris said. "Forest management could benefit from a consideration of these processes when managing snags on public and private lands."

Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wcs.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment

20.04.2018 | Health and Medicine

Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

20.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars

20.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>