A preliminary investigation into the short-term effects of a prescribed fire on habitat quality for a snake assemblage

  • Published source details Steen D.A., Osborne P.A., Dovčiak M., Patrick D.A. & Gibbs J.P. (2015) A preliminary investigation into the short-term effects of a prescribed fire on habitat quality for a snake assemblage. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 10, 263-272.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed burning: Grassland & shrubland

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Use prescribed burning: Grassland & shrubland

    A controlled, before-and-after study in 2006 and 2010 in disused crop fields in New York State, USA (Steen et al. 2015) reported that following prescribed burning, the abundance of four snake species did not increase. Results were not statistically tested. Two months after a prescribed burn in a field, counts were similar for eastern milksnakes Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum (0.002 snakes/coverboard), northern brownsnakes Storeria dekayi dekayi (0.040), eastern gartersnakes Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (0.181) and northern watersnakes Nerodia sipedon sipedon (0.004) compared to four years earlier (in 2006 milksnake: 0.001 snakes/coverboard; brownsnake: 0.020; gartersnake: 0.230; watersnake 0). The authors reported that counts of eastern milksnakes, northern brownsnakes and eastern gartersnakes may have declined in a neighbouring field that wasn’t burned over the same time period (see original paper for details). Snakes were monitored in two abandoned agricultural fields (1 km apart) that had been planted with crops until 15–20 years prior to the study, after which they had been managed by mowing biannually. Prescribed burning took place in one field in April 2010 instead of mowing in that year. Snakes were surveyed using coverboards in June-August 2006 and 2010 (25 coverboards/field, 20 total surveys).

    (Summarised by: Katie Sainsbury)

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