Extent of Phellinus pini decay in loblolly pines and red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees in eastern Texas.
Extent of Phellinus pini decay in loblolly pines and red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees in eastern Texas. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden 89: 315-321, 2004. To determine the prevalence of Phellinus pini in pines generally and red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees specifically, we dissected 24 loblolly pines (Pinus taeda) with visible sporophores located in the Davy Crockett National Forest, eastern Texas, and determined the vertical dimensions and diameter of the Phellinus pini decay column within the heartwood. The loblolly pines, which were dissected at 1-m intervals, averaged 28.6 m in height, 30.5 cm dbh, and 52 y of age. The decay column within these pines extended from an average of 0.2 m to an average of 11.1 m above the ground and attained an average maximum diameter of 13.3 cm. Sixteen red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) cavity trees (loblolly and shortleaf, Pinus echinata, pines which averaged 29.5 m in height, 48.6 cm dbh, and 99.9 y of age) that were blown over during a windstorm on the Sabine National Forest in eastern Texas were also dissected to determine length and position of the decay column and its diameter at the woodpecker cavity site. Woodpecker cavity excavation sites were closely associated with fungal sporophores. The decay column in red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees, which extended an average of 4.2 m to an average 16 m above the ground, extended 4.2 m above and 7.6 m below the woodpecker cavity and averaged 15.5 cm in diameter at the cavity. Our results suggest that at least 15 years are required post inoculation for sporophore formation to commence and before a sufficient diameter of heartwood has been decayed to physically house a red-cockaded woodpecker cavity.