In many parts of the world's forests, intensive management has resulted in habitat loss for several species. Among these, specialised woodpeckers (Aves: Picidae) have been affected negatively due to their high requirements for resources that are scarce in managed forests. We used the gradient of anthropogenic impact on forests in northern Europe's Baltic Sea region to (1) assess the relationship between the presence of four focal woodpecker species and forest naturalness and (2) quantify their requirements regarding specific resources in four different areas (south-central Sweden, southern Sweden, Lithuania and northeastern Poland). This study focused on specialised woodpecker species of the Dendropicini tribe: the three-toed (Picoides tridactylus), middle spotted (Dendrocopos medius), white-backed (Dendrocopos leucotos) and lesser spotted (Dendrocopos minor) woodpeckers. The occurrence of these species in landscape units of 100 ha was generally related positively to the degree of forest naturalness and to the amounts of resources considered critical for the suitability of their respective habitats. For the middle spotted woodpecker, basal areas ≥1.0 m2/ha of large-diameter deciduous trees (DBH ≥ 40 cm) were associated with a high probability of occurrence (≥0.9). For the white-backed woodpecker, the same probability of occurrence was found for basal areas ≥1.4 m2/ha of deciduous snags (DBH ≥ 10 cm). Relationships between the occurrence of the three-toed and lesser spotted woodpeckers and snag abundance were more variable among study areas. The results suggest that specialised woodpeckers would benefit from an increase in the area of forest with natural properties. Moreover, they allow defining tentative quantitative targets for sustainable forest management. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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