Graduation Date

Spring 2024

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Frank Fogarty

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Ho Yi Wan

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Jeffrey Kane

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Lewis's woodpecker, Habitat, Management, Wildfire, Pyrodiversity, Oregon

Subject Categories



Lewis’s woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis) are described as "burn specialists" due to their preference for breeding in recently burned pine forests in the western US. However, despite increasing fire activity, this species experienced a 48% range-wide decline between 1968 and 2019, which raises questions about their adaptability to altered fire regimes in the region. We partnered with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to investigate how Lewis’s woodpeckers in the eastern Cascades, Oregon were influenced by post-fire habitat characteristics such as snag size, snag density, and burn severity across five wildfires that varied in fire age, size, and severity. We examined aspects of pyrodiversity in the form of spatial configuration of burn severity at varying spatial scales. We aimed to understand how habitat differed between an area with Lewis’s woodpeckers year-round (White River Wildlife Area) and an area with only a breeding population (Deschutes National Forest). We used point count data collected from May – June 2023 to create N-mixture models to estimate Lewis’s woodpecker habitat associations. Our models showed that recent burns (3 – 6 years) with snag densities of ~65 snags/hectare and larger snags (> 40 cm diameter) had the highest abundance of Lewis’s woodpeckers. Our spatial models indicated that more connectivity between severely burned patches positively influenced Lewis’s woodpecker abundance. When comparing habitats between White River Wildlife Area and Deschutes National Forest, we saw notable differences in dominant tree species, live tree and snag densities, canopy cover, and decay class of trees and snags. Results from this work provide information for formulating more effective conservation and management strategies tailored to Lewis’s woodpecker populations in the eastern Cascades of Oregon in response to increasing wildfire activity in the region.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management


Thesis/Project Location


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