Interior ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests of the Pacific Northwest have changed dramatically since the time of European settlement. As a result of decades of fire suppression and timber management that focused on selective removal of large-diameter trees, ponderosa pine forests today have high densities of small diameter trees and low densities of large diameter trees and snags, as well as an encroachment of shade tolerant tree species.
The White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) is a primary excavator that occurs in pine- (Pinus spp.) dominated habitats throughout its geographic distribution. Throughout the interior Pacific Northwest, the White-headed Woodpecker is historically associated with large-diameter ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. Historically these pine forests were maintained by frequent fires that occurred every 5–15 years. Old trees (>150 years) in these historic forests were 40–91 cm dbh and ranged in density from 19 to 49 per hectare.
The Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) is a secondary-cavity-nesting thrush that breeds in semi-open habitats throughout much of western North America. Historically, the Western Bluebird was more common in Washington west of the Cascade crest than to the east, but today it is more abundant in the eastern Cascades.
Woodpeckers are considered keystone species because of their broad effects on other species. In nesting and foraging, woodpeckers create cavities and excavations that other species use, they aid in controlling forest insects, and they may help in dispersing spores of fungi that are agents of decay. Despite the importance of woodpeckers to forested ecosystems, few studies have examined metrics of woodpecker demography such as reproductive success or nest survival or have investigated the associations of habitat characteristics with these or related metrics.
Dramatic declines in the abundance of anadromous Pacific salmonids have occurred over the last century in the Columbia River basin. Population declines followed harvest, hydrosystem and watershed development, habitat loss and degradation, and reduced survival in freshwater, estuary, and marine environments. These declines are accompanied by greatly reduced levels of natural production due to an array of anthropogenic factors.