Difference on cone size preferences between two coniferous species by Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Łukasz Dylewski, Reuven Yosef, Łukasz Myczko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The number of species that specialize in pre-dispersal seed predation is relatively small. Examples of specialized pre-dispersal seed predators adapted to feeding on closed cones include vertebrate species like Crossbills, Squirrels, Nutcrackers and Woodpeckers. Seed predation selects against certain phenotypic features of cones and favors another phenotypic features. In this study, we document preferences of the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) for specific traits in the cones of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). We found that the Great Spotted Woodpecker prefers to feed on medium sized Norway spruce cones. The results suggest a disruptive selection that favors the extreme cone lengths in Norway spruce. In Scots pine, the woodpeckers avoided cones with large apophyses. Further, the selectivity for the specific characteristics of the cones is probably related to the configuration of the anvil, a place at which woodpeckers extract seeds from the cones. We think that the Great Spotted Woodpecker preferences in relation to the morphological characteristics of cones are a key to the design of the anvil in order to maximize the use of it as a tool for processing cones of both the Norway spruce and the Scots pine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3288
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Anvils
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Norway spruce
  • Phenotypic selection
  • Pre-dispersal seed predation
  • Scots pine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Difference on cone size preferences between two coniferous species by Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this