Individual study: Response of white-winged nightjars Eleothreptus candicans to a prescribed burn of cerrado grassland at Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve, Paraguay
Pople R.G. & Esquivel A. (2012) Response of white-winged nightjars Eleothreptus candicans to a prescribed burn of cerrado grassland at Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve, Paraguay. Conservation Evidence, 9, 36-42
The White-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus candicans is a globally threatened nightbird of the open savannas of central South America. Previous observations, suggesting that the species has a preference for recently burnt habitats, have potentially been confounded by the increased detectability of individuals and the lack of availability of unburnt habitats following extensive wildfires. This study attempted to address these limitations by monitoring the response of three radio-tagged nightjars (which had already been tracked for ≥10 months) to an experimental burn, overlapping with 16–33% of their pre-burn home ranges, at Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve in eastern Paraguay. Overall, 10 (24%) of the 42 nocturnal radio-tracking fixes obtained during eight weeks of post-burn monitoring were within the burnt area. One individual entirely avoided the burn parcel following the burn, but the other two showed no significant preference for the burnt area. None of the seven diurnal roost sites located during post-burn monitoring was within the burn parcel. This apparent lack of an active preference for burnt habitat, at least during the first two months immediately following a fire, adds weight to recommendations for more active fire management in the few protected areas where the species persists, in order to reduce the frequency of the periodic uncontrollable and extensive wildfires that typically occur at present.