Study

Response of herpetofaunal communities to forest cutting and burning at Chesapeake Farms Maryland

  • Published source details McLeod R.F. & Gates J.E. (1998) Response of herpetofaunal communities to forest cutting and burning at Chesapeake Farms Maryland. American Midland Naturalist, 139, 164–177.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

Action Link
Reptile Conservation

Use prescribed fire or modifications to burning regime in forests

Action Link
Amphibian Conservation
  1. Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

    A replicated, site comparison study in 1992–1993 in mixed hardwood and pine coastal forest in Maryland, USA (McLeod & Gates 1998) found that annual prescribed burning did not increase reptile abundance. Following 4–5 years of annual prescribed burning, overall reptile and snake, but not skink or turtle, abundances were reduced in burned pine plots (overall: 96 individuals, snake: 65, skink: 31, turtle: 0) compared to unburned mixed pine-hardwood plots (overall: 130, snake: 91, skink: 36, turtle: 3). See paper for individual species comparisons. The numbers of reptiles captured in burned plots (96 individuals) tended to be lower than in unburned hardwood forest (200 individuals, results were not statistically tested). In March–July 1992–1993, reptiles were monitored in three locations each in four forest stands: prescribed burn pine (4 ha total area), unburned mixed pine-hardwood (5 ha), unburned hardwood (328 ha) and unburned, cut hardwood (130 ha). One third of the burned pine area was burned annually (a different section each year) since 1988. Prior to this it was burned annually in 1981–1984. Surveys were carried out using drift fences with pitfall and funnel traps (‘arrays’, 1992: 366–381 array nights/stand; 1993: 423).

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

  2. Use prescribed fire or modifications to burning regime in forests

    A controlled study in 1992–1993 of pine stands in Maryland, USA (McLeod & Gates 1998) found that annual prescribed burns resulted in significantly lower amphibian abundance. Captures were significantly lower in the burned compared to unburned stand for total amphibians (74 vs 391), salamanders (8 vs 105), ranid species (6 vs 20) and frogs and toads (66 vs 214). The same was true for two of 10 frog and toad species, adults of two of four salamander species and young of the year for three frog species. The other species showed no significant difference between treatments. Study sites were an unburned mixed pine-hardwood stand (5 ha) and a pine stand (4 ha) that had been burned annually since 1981, with alternating thirds being burned from 1988. Monitoring was undertaken using three drift-fences with pitfall and funnel traps per site in March–July 1992–1993.

     

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