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Tree Cavity Resources for Dependent Cavity-Using Wildlife in West Virginia Forests

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We assessed and compared tree cavity resources for dependent wildlife among various forest cover types of West Virginia. The study was conducted in the Greenbrier and Potomac Ranger Districts of the Monongahela National Forest (MNF). From the fall of 1999 through the spring of 2001, 25 50-m radius study plots were established in each of a Society of American Foresters (SAF) central hardwood, northern hardwood, and subalpine forest cover type. Cavity tree abundance significantly differed among the three forest cover types (P < 0.0001), with the highest cavity tree abundance in the central hardwood type (x¯ = 16.4; SE = 5.3), followed by the northern hardwood type (x¯ = 12.7; SE = 6.8), and lastly the subalpine type (x¯ = 7.2; SE = 3.6). Relative cavity likelihood was highest for black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), followed by American beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and chestnut oak (Quercus prinus). American beech cavity numbers currently may be influenced by increased mortality from recent outbreaks of beech bark disease, initiated by the beech scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga). Management of red spruce (Picea rubens) forests should consider numbers of nearby large hardwoods to provide cavity resources for dependent wildlife.

Keywords: Monongahela National Forest; West Virginia; beech bark disease; cavity trees

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: West Virginia University, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program, Division of Forestry, Morgantown, WV 26506.

Publication date: 2006-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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