Responses of amphibians to fire disturbance in Pacific Northwest forests: a review
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In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 34-42.
In western North America, major wildfires often now result in stand-replacement events and natural resources losses for many decades post-burn. Fire severity has been exacerbated by past fire suppression that has allowed large fuel load accumulations. To reduce woody debris and restore the ecological integrity of western forests, prescribed burning is increasingly used as a regional management tool. However, we do not understand the effects of either wildfire or prescribed fires on amphibians in stream, riparian and terrestrial habitats in western forests. Terrestrial amphibians, macroinvertebrates and other animals are surface active during periods of rainfall or high moisture. Wildland fire usually starts in the hot, dry summers typical of these more arid Western and Mediterranean climates and may have less effect on resident biota than prescribed fires often conducted during the late fall to spring rainy season, when there is sufficient moisture to prevent crown fires. Still, intense wildfires may result in increased erosion and sediment or changes in soil chemistry impacting downstream aquatic environments. To our knowledge, no published reports exist on effects of fire on the aquatic herpetofauna of the Pacific Northwest. Research efforts now underway include new studies of wildland fires in Oregon and Idaho on aquatic amphibians, and studies on the effects of prescribed fire on terrestrial salamanders and associated forests in the Klamath Province along the Oregon-California border. These will help evaluate the cumulative effects of fuels reduction on amphibian population and habitat structure, and provide guidelines to better manage for wildlife species characteristic of western forests. In the Pacific Northwest, investigations of fire effects on wildlife are severely lacking relative to the vast acreage, economic value, and biodiversity of its forest ecosystems. Given the increasing prominence of wildfire and prescribed burning in many western forest systems, we suggest more resources will be devoted to such research endeavors, and that they include other sensitive groups of wildlife such as mollusks.
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Bury, R. Bruce; Major, Donald J.; Pilliod, David. 2002. Responses of amphibians to fire disturbance in Pacific Northwest forests: a review. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 34-42.