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Tobias Lopez


1999 Research

Abstract: Decay Rates and Avian Use of Artificially Created Snags

Mentor: Dr. Margaret O'Connell, Biology

As timber harvests continue to reduce the number of naturally occurring snags, forest managers have introduced techniques to artificially create snags to help maintain populations of cavity nesting animals dependent on snags. The Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington State began artificially creating snags in 1991 using two main methods of treatment, topping and girdling. Each tree has been monitored to determine decay class and use (foraging and nesting) by cavity nesters at approximately a two-year cycle. Average decay rates for the different species were compared. The time from treatment to early snag stage was fastest in ponderosa pine and slowest in western larch. However the time from treatment to middle snag stage was fastest in western larch and slowest in western redcedar. Douglas fir and western larch in the early and middle snag stages had most evidence of foraging. Black cottonwood and western redcedar had the highest proportion of nesting in the early and middle snag stages, respectively. Continued monitoring of the trees will provide long-term information on decay rates and snag utilization.

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