Old forests and endangered woodpeckers: old-growth in the Southern Coastal Plain
Southern old-growth forests are small and rare, but critical in their support of biodiversity. While the remnant old-growth forests contain diversity that is significant regionally and globally, they most likely represent only a portion of the variety that old forests once sustained. High within-habitat diversity and rarity in the landscape magnify the conservation value of these systems. Old-growth stands of two particular communities --- longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests and floodplain (bottomland/swamp) forests --- have emblematic links to two notable bird species of concern, the Red-cockaded (Picoides borealis) and Ivory-billed (Campephilus principalis) Woodpeckers. In addition to conservation importance, southern old forests have social and economic values that are in danger of further impoverishment if these systems are lost to future generations. Summarizing the findings from a recent workshop, we review old-growth status and values, identify current threats, and describe potential strategies to promote greater long-term conservation of old forests across the South.