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Individual study: Effect of time since burn on winter use of dry prairie by grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum and sedge wren Cistothorus platensis, Florida, USA

Published source details

Butler A.B., Martin J.A., Plamer W.E. & Carroll J.P. (2009) Effect of time since burn on winter use of dry prairie by grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum and sedge wren Cistothorus platensis, Florida, USA. The Condor, 111, 511-522

Summary

The unique 'dry prairie' of south-central Florida is one of the largest areas of grassland remaining in southeast USA. Suppression of natural fires has shifted wiregrass Aristida beyrichiana-dominated communities toward woody-stemmed species e.g. saw palmetto Sereona repens. This study evaluated effects of habitat characteristics and time since burn on the occurrence of grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum and sedge wren Cistothorus platensis, both winter residents.

Birds were surveyed by flush transects and habitat characteristics monitored over two winters.

Time since fire was the best predictor of grasshopper sparrow presence in both years; occupancy was six times more likely if transects were burned within the previous 12 months. Sedge wrens were more abundant in grassland with longer intervals between fires. These results indicate that dry prairie might best be managed by prescribed burns following 'natural' (1-3 years) fire-return intervals to maintain wintering habitat for grassland birds.

Note: If using or referring to this published study please read and quote the original paper, the abstract can be viewed at: www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20093287309.html