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Immediate Herpetofaunal Responses to Prescribed Burning in Wetlands of Southeastern Michigan

Immediate Herpetofaunal Responses to Prescribed Burning in Wetlands of Southeastern Michigan Prescribed fire is an increasingly common and effective management tool for ecological restoration of wetlands in the US Midwest. Prescribed fire is reported to have adverse effects on sensitive wetland fauna such as reptiles and amphibians, but surprisingly few empirical data are available to support management recommendations meant to protect herpetofauna from prescribed burning. We examined the effects of prescribed fires one day and one month after burning in eight wetlands across two wetland types in southeastern Michigan using abundance, species richness, and diversity of herpetofauna as metrics. Most amphibian communities returned to pre-burn levels of the three metrics by one month after the burn; reptile communities appeared to be more negatively affected by prescribed fire although sample sizes were extremely low. Response of individual species to burning was more variable; two previously detected amphibians and four previously detected reptiles were not detected by the end of the project, suggesting that some herpetofauna may respond negatively to fire while the most common species are unaffected. Only one individual of the 126 herpetofauna located in this study apparently experienced direct mortality after fire. We noted differences in species richness and diversity between wetland types that were probably attributable to differences in these metrics prior to burning. Although in some cases amphibian communities experienced few or only short-lived negative impacts of fire, we caution that fire effects are likely to be species-specific, such that prescribed burns should always be planned thoughtfully from this perspective. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Restoration University of Wisconsin Press

Immediate Herpetofaunal Responses to Prescribed Burning in Wetlands of Southeastern Michigan

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
ISSN
1543-4079

Abstract

Prescribed fire is an increasingly common and effective management tool for ecological restoration of wetlands in the US Midwest. Prescribed fire is reported to have adverse effects on sensitive wetland fauna such as reptiles and amphibians, but surprisingly few empirical data are available to support management recommendations meant to protect herpetofauna from prescribed burning. We examined the effects of prescribed fires one day and one month after burning in eight wetlands across two wetland types in southeastern Michigan using abundance, species richness, and diversity of herpetofauna as metrics. Most amphibian communities returned to pre-burn levels of the three metrics by one month after the burn; reptile communities appeared to be more negatively affected by prescribed fire although sample sizes were extremely low. Response of individual species to burning was more variable; two previously detected amphibians and four previously detected reptiles were not detected by the end of the project, suggesting that some herpetofauna may respond negatively to fire while the most common species are unaffected. Only one individual of the 126 herpetofauna located in this study apparently experienced direct mortality after fire. We noted differences in species richness and diversity between wetland types that were probably attributable to differences in these metrics prior to burning. Although in some cases amphibian communities experienced few or only short-lived negative impacts of fire, we caution that fire effects are likely to be species-specific, such that prescribed burns should always be planned thoughtfully from this perspective.

Journal

Ecological RestorationUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: May 6, 2014

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