Annie Green
April 7, 1997

A Descriptive Assessment of Snag Use Along a Riparian Corridor in Western North Carolina

Abstract. A riparian corridor is a wooded track along a river. These areas are important to wildlife because these habitats harbor greater species diversity and density (Murray and Stauffer 1995). Riparian corridors are especially important to nongame bird species, such as cavity nesters, because provided a protected means of travel. The objectives of this study were to (1) describe canopy tree characteristics along a riparian corridor, (2) describe snag characteristics in to cavity use, (3) describe cavity use by species in this community.
    The canopy of the corridor along the Swannanoa River is dominated by sycamore, river birch, and black locust. Trends in tree density and tree morality were found in relation to distance from the river. There were more trees and a higher percentage of dead trees closer to the river. The majority of the dead trees in the corridor were river birch and black locust.
    I found a total of 17 cavities in the corridor. 10 of these cavities were active and 7 were inactive. The majority of the cavities were found in river birch and black locust. One of the most interesting findings of this study was all cavities were oriented towards the river. The literature stated that cavities in the corridor: Red-bellied woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, Tufted titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, and Eastern Bluebird.  The density of snags in the corridor was approximately 3.4 cavities per hectare. This density is below the recommended snag density of 5-10 cavities per hectares. In order to have a sustainable population of cavity nesting birds, the density of snags must increase in the corridor.