Cavity turnover and equilibrium cavity densities in a cottonwood bottomland

Journal of Wildlife Management
By:  and 



A fundamental factor regulating the numbers of secondary cavity nesting (SCN) birds is the number of extant cavities available for nesting. The number of available cavities may be thought of as being in an approximate equilibrium maintained by a very rough balance between recruitment and loss of cavities. Based on estimates of cavity recruitment and loss, we ascertained equilibrium cavity densities in a mature plains cottonwood (Populus sargentii) bottomland along the South Platte River in northeastern Colorado. Annual cavity recruitment, derived from density estimates of primary cavity nesting (PCN) birds and cavity excavation rates, was estimated to be 71-86 new cavities excavated/100 ha. Of 180 active cavities of 11 species of cavity-nesting birds found in 1985 and 1986, 83 were no longer usable by 1990, giving an average instantaneous rate of cavity loss of r = -0.230. From these values of cavity recruitment and cavity loss, equilibrium cavity density along the South Platte is 238-289 cavities/100 ha. This range of equilibrium cavity density is only slightly above the minimum of 205 cavities/100 ha required by SCN's and suggests that cavity availability may be limiting SCN densities along the South Platte River. We submit that snag management alone does not adequately address SCN habitat needs, and that cavity management, expressed in terms of cavity turnover and cavity densities, may be more useful.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Cavity turnover and equilibrium cavity densities in a cottonwood bottomland
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2307/3808862
Volume 56
Issue 3
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 8 p.
First page 477
Last page 484