, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 15–23 | Cite as

Space use of suburban pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus): insights on the relationship between home range, core areas, and territory

  • Jorge A. Tomasevic
  • John M. Marzluff


Home range, territory, and core areas are concepts that have been used to describe a species’ space use. However, little research has been done to understand potential spatial relationships between them. While the relative importance of different areas of the home range has been addressed with utilization distributions, there is a lack of such analysis for territories. We mapped the locations of territorial advertisements (calls and drumming) of the pileated woodpecker in suburban areas to determine a more objective, behavior-based approach to define areas of importance within territories, which we called ‘highly-defended areas’. We then analyzed the relationship between such highly-defended areas and a bird’s home range and territory. On average, territories represented 69.6 ± 0.06% (mean ± SE) of a woodpecker’s home range, and highly-defended areas were 34.3 ± 0.03% of their home range. Highly-defended areas objectively determined the portion of the territory that was important for fitness. For example, they contained a significant proportion of the nests and roost sites of pileated woodpeckers, which are important for reproduction and survivorship. This approach could be useful to further incorporate behavior in the study of the spatial ecology of species.


Behavior Urban ecology Territoriality Cavity-nesting birds Spatial overlap 



We thank Jon Bakker, Joshua J. Lawler, Martin G. Raphael, Kaeli Swift, Lauren Walker, Jack DeLap, Carol Bogezi, and Michael Heimbuch for their invaluable comments at different stages of the development of this manuscript. We thank Jim Ladd, Kim Holt, April Gale-Seixeiro, Sharon Shriver, Dale Griffith, and Jim Rettig for kindly allowing us to trap pileated woodpeckers on their property. We thank Sean Williams, Laura Farwell, Sara Wang, Lauren Walker, Ross Forbush, Ila Palmquist, Jamie Granger, Kristen Richardson, Frank Stevick, Chase O’Neil, Jack DeLap, Janice Bragg, and many others for their assistance in the field. We also thank Sean Williams, Laura Farwell, Peter Hodum, and Nathalie Hamel who helped with transportation to conduct the fieldwork. Finally, we thank Geir A. Sonerud, Marko Mägi, and Indrikis Krams for their comments which greatly improved this paper.

Author contribution statement

Both authors conceived the idea, and designed the research. JAT collected and analyzed the data, and wrote the paper with edits from JMM.


JAT conducted this research while on Fulbright-Conicyt scholarship. The field equipment used on this research was partially funded by a School of Environmental and Forest Sciences grant and the Student Technology Fee grant.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental and Forest SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (CEHUM), Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile

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