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Throughout the southeastern U.S. the number and size of pine-grassland ecosystems are declining. Red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis), which require pine-grasslands, are federally listed as endangered. Four of the ten largest red-cockaded woodpecker populations are on military installations (Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, and Eglin Air Force Base), and other military installations (e.g., Fort Gordon and Fort Polk) also contain woodpecker populations (James 1995).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is revising the recovery plan for the red-cockaded woodpecker. The revised plan will be built around a core of sites where the local populations of woodpeckers are relatively large. These sites will be managed to maintain their populations. Other sites, where populations are smaller may be subject to different management requirements.

Such patchily distributed local populations may exhibit metapopulation characteristics. Even if the red-cockaded woodpecker is not a classic metapopulation, a metapopulation model may offer insights into those population parameters and management actions that are likely to be most important in maintaining a viable population. Thus, we have developed a preliminary metapopulation model of the red-cockaded woodpecker across its present range. The model is based on existing information and will be updated as better information becomes available.

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