Study

Amphibian and reptile responses to thinning and prescribed burning in mixed pine-hardwood forests of northwestern Alabama, USA

  • Published source details Sutton W.B., Wang Y. & Schweitzer C.J. (2013) Amphibian and reptile responses to thinning and prescribed burning in mixed pine-hardwood forests of northwestern Alabama, USA. Forest Ecology and Management, 295, 213-227.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Thin trees within forests

Action Link
Reptile Conservation

Use prescribed burning in combination with vegetation cutting

Action Link
Reptile Conservation

Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Thin trees within forests

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2008 in mixed forest in Alabama, USA (Sutton et al. 2013) found no clear effects of thinning on the abundance of six reptile species when compared to areas that were left unmanaged. The abundance of all six species (eastern fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus, green anole Anolis carolinensis, little brown skink Scincella lateralis, five-lined skink Plestiodon fasciatus, copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix and eastern racer Coluber constrictor) remained similar following heavy and light thinning compared to unmanaged areas (see paper for individual species abundances). In 2005–2008, three 9 ha plots each were either lightly thinned (17 m2/ha tree retention), heavily thinned (11 m2/ha tree retention) or left unmanaged (9 plots in total). Reptiles were surveyed for 3–6 months before management began (564 total trap nights in April–August) and in the two years after management (3,132 total trap nights in March–September) using drift fences with pitfall traps. Individuals were marked before release.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

  2. Use prescribed burning in combination with vegetation cutting

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2008 in mixed forest in Alabama, USA (Sutton et al. 2013) found that the effect of prescribed burning with thinning trees or burning alone was mixed depending on reptile species. Eastern fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus captures increased after burning in burn-only stands (pre-burn: 0 individuals/100 trap nights, post-burn 1–4) and were higher in the second year after heavy thinning with burning (13) compared to no management (1). Green anole Anolis carolinensis captures were higher in the first year after thinning with burning (17–18) and thinning (13) compared to burn only (0), but similar to no management (5). Little brown skink Scincella lateralis captures decreased in the first year after all management (2–3 individuals/100 trap nights) compared to pre-management (4–13). Five-lined skink Plestiodon fasciatus captures were lower in the first year after burning (0) compared to the first year after heavy thinning (7). See paper for details of other species responses. In 2005–2008, the impact of six management options (burn only, light tree thinning, heavy thinning, light thinning with burning, heavy thinning with burning and no management) on reptiles were tested in three blocks of six 9 ha plots. Reptiles were surveyed for 3–6 months before management began (564 total trap nights in April–August) and in the two years after management (3,132 total trap nights in March–September) using drift fences with pitfall traps.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

  3. Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2008 in mixed forest in Alabama, USA (Sutton et al. 2013) found that following burning, the abundance of one reptile species increased and seven remained similar. Eastern fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus captures increased after burning (pre-burn: 0 individuals/100 trap nights, post-burn 1–4). The abundance of seven other species was not affected by burning (see paper for details). In 2005–2008, the impact of burning compared to no management on reptiles was tested (three 9 ha plots/treatment). Reptiles were surveyed for 3–6 months before burning began (April–August) and in the two years after burning (in March–September) using drift fences with pitfall traps.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

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