Return of Fire as a Restoration Tool: Long-Term Effects of Burn Severity on Habitat Use by Mexican Fox Squirrels

Sandra L. Doumas, John Koprowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After decades of suppression, fire is returning to forests of the western United States through wildfires and prescribed burns. These fires may aid restoration of vegetation structure and processes, which could improve conditions for wildlife species and reduce severe wildfire risk. Understanding response of wildlife species to fires is essential to forest restoration because contemporary fires may not have the same effects as historical fires. Recent fires in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona provided opportunity to investigate long-term effects of burn severity on habitat selection of a native wildlife species. We surveyed burned forest for squirrel feeding sign and related vegetation characteristics to frequency of feeding sign occurrence. We used radio-telemetry within fire-influenced forest to determine home ranges of Mexican fox squirrels, Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae, and compared vegetation characteristics within home ranges to random areas available to squirrels throughout burned conifer forest. Squirrels fed in forest with open understory and closed canopy cover. Vegetation within home ranges was characterized by lower understory density, consistent with the effects of low-severity fire, and larger trees than random locations. Our results suggest that return of low-severity fire can help restore habitat for Mexican fox squirrels and other native wildlife species with similar habitat affiliations in forests with a historical regime of frequent, low-severity fire. Our study contributes to an understanding of the role and impact of fire in forest ecosystems and the implications for forest restoration as fire returns to the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Fingerprint

squirrels
foxes
habitat use
long term effects
fire severity
habitats
wildlife
forest restoration
wildfires
home range
vegetation
understory
Sciurus
fire suppression
wildfire
feeding frequency
Western United States
forest fires
radio telemetry
forest habitats

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • Chiricahua fox squirrel
  • prescribed fire
  • Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae
  • severity
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Return of Fire as a Restoration Tool : Long-Term Effects of Burn Severity on Habitat Use by Mexican Fox Squirrels. / Doumas, Sandra L.; Koprowski, John.

In: Restoration Ecology, Vol. 21, No. 1, 01.2013, p. 133-139.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{682c453b8a8a4bd0bf787a609b4a213a,
title = "Return of Fire as a Restoration Tool: Long-Term Effects of Burn Severity on Habitat Use by Mexican Fox Squirrels",
abstract = "After decades of suppression, fire is returning to forests of the western United States through wildfires and prescribed burns. These fires may aid restoration of vegetation structure and processes, which could improve conditions for wildlife species and reduce severe wildfire risk. Understanding response of wildlife species to fires is essential to forest restoration because contemporary fires may not have the same effects as historical fires. Recent fires in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona provided opportunity to investigate long-term effects of burn severity on habitat selection of a native wildlife species. We surveyed burned forest for squirrel feeding sign and related vegetation characteristics to frequency of feeding sign occurrence. We used radio-telemetry within fire-influenced forest to determine home ranges of Mexican fox squirrels, Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae, and compared vegetation characteristics within home ranges to random areas available to squirrels throughout burned conifer forest. Squirrels fed in forest with open understory and closed canopy cover. Vegetation within home ranges was characterized by lower understory density, consistent with the effects of low-severity fire, and larger trees than random locations. Our results suggest that return of low-severity fire can help restore habitat for Mexican fox squirrels and other native wildlife species with similar habitat affiliations in forests with a historical regime of frequent, low-severity fire. Our study contributes to an understanding of the role and impact of fire in forest ecosystems and the implications for forest restoration as fire returns to the region.",
keywords = "Arizona, Chiricahua fox squirrel, prescribed fire, Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae, severity, wildfire",
author = "Doumas, {Sandra L.} and John Koprowski",
year = "2013",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00864.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "21",
pages = "133--139",
journal = "Restoration Ecology",
issn = "1061-2971",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Return of Fire as a Restoration Tool

T2 - Long-Term Effects of Burn Severity on Habitat Use by Mexican Fox Squirrels

AU - Doumas, Sandra L.

AU - Koprowski, John

PY - 2013/1

Y1 - 2013/1

N2 - After decades of suppression, fire is returning to forests of the western United States through wildfires and prescribed burns. These fires may aid restoration of vegetation structure and processes, which could improve conditions for wildlife species and reduce severe wildfire risk. Understanding response of wildlife species to fires is essential to forest restoration because contemporary fires may not have the same effects as historical fires. Recent fires in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona provided opportunity to investigate long-term effects of burn severity on habitat selection of a native wildlife species. We surveyed burned forest for squirrel feeding sign and related vegetation characteristics to frequency of feeding sign occurrence. We used radio-telemetry within fire-influenced forest to determine home ranges of Mexican fox squirrels, Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae, and compared vegetation characteristics within home ranges to random areas available to squirrels throughout burned conifer forest. Squirrels fed in forest with open understory and closed canopy cover. Vegetation within home ranges was characterized by lower understory density, consistent with the effects of low-severity fire, and larger trees than random locations. Our results suggest that return of low-severity fire can help restore habitat for Mexican fox squirrels and other native wildlife species with similar habitat affiliations in forests with a historical regime of frequent, low-severity fire. Our study contributes to an understanding of the role and impact of fire in forest ecosystems and the implications for forest restoration as fire returns to the region.

AB - After decades of suppression, fire is returning to forests of the western United States through wildfires and prescribed burns. These fires may aid restoration of vegetation structure and processes, which could improve conditions for wildlife species and reduce severe wildfire risk. Understanding response of wildlife species to fires is essential to forest restoration because contemporary fires may not have the same effects as historical fires. Recent fires in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona provided opportunity to investigate long-term effects of burn severity on habitat selection of a native wildlife species. We surveyed burned forest for squirrel feeding sign and related vegetation characteristics to frequency of feeding sign occurrence. We used radio-telemetry within fire-influenced forest to determine home ranges of Mexican fox squirrels, Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae, and compared vegetation characteristics within home ranges to random areas available to squirrels throughout burned conifer forest. Squirrels fed in forest with open understory and closed canopy cover. Vegetation within home ranges was characterized by lower understory density, consistent with the effects of low-severity fire, and larger trees than random locations. Our results suggest that return of low-severity fire can help restore habitat for Mexican fox squirrels and other native wildlife species with similar habitat affiliations in forests with a historical regime of frequent, low-severity fire. Our study contributes to an understanding of the role and impact of fire in forest ecosystems and the implications for forest restoration as fire returns to the region.

KW - Arizona

KW - Chiricahua fox squirrel

KW - prescribed fire

KW - Sciurus nayaritensis chiricahuae

KW - severity

KW - wildfire

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84872685647&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84872685647&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00864.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00864.x

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84872685647

VL - 21

SP - 133

EP - 139

JO - Restoration Ecology

JF - Restoration Ecology

SN - 1061-2971

IS - 1

ER -