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Life history trait differences in isolated populations of the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Changes in life history traits can reveal adaptations to changing environments. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) are cooperative breeders that have specific reproductive habitat needs. We examined three separate sites in the southeastern United States to see how life history traits differed among isolated populations of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers from 1980 to 2013. We examined the life history traits group size, partial brood loss, number of fledglings, lay date, clutch size, and lifespan. Traits differed among sites, suggesting that populations were adapted to local conditions and different life history trade-offs were important under different environmental conditions at each site. At the two coastal sites in Florida and North Carolina, the family group sizes, lifespans, and partial brood loss were higher when compared to the inland site in North Carolina. Clutch size and number fledged were higher at the two northernmost sites when compared to the southern site. Identifying the differences in life history traits can allow more specific and effective management practices.