Oak Mistletoe Linked to Microhabitat Availability and Avian Diversity
Mistletoes are flowering plants that parasitize woody plants, and can be important food and cover for wildlife. However, the relationship between availability of mistletoe-formed microhabitat and wildlife diversity has not been well studied. Researchers from Oregon State University and the USGS investigated microhabitat features and avian abundance and diversity related to Oak Mistletoe infection in Oregon White Oak woodlands, which support several avian species of conservation concern. They found that mistletoe added to the structural heterogeneity within oak tree crowns, providing unique features such as cavities that are valued by wildlife for nesting and roosting. Their results showed that avian species richness and abundance are positively associated with mistletoe, and that mistletoe fruit is an important food for western bluebirds and other wildlife in late autumn and early winter. Managers aiming to maintain habitat for oak-associated bird species may consider the retention of some oaks hosting mistletoe.
Pritchard, K.P., Hagar, J.C., Shaw, D.C., 2016, Oak mistletoe (Phoradendron villosum) is linked to microhabitat availability and avian diversity in Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) woodlands: Botany, p. online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjb-2016-0249. [Details]