Effects of prescribed fire on herpetofauna in bottomland hardwood forests

  • Published source details Moseley K.R., Castleberry S.B. & Schweitzer S.H. (2003) Effects of prescribed fire on herpetofauna in bottomland hardwood forests. Southeastern Naturalist, 2, 475-486.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater swamps

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Use prescribed fire or modifications to burning regime in forests

Action Link
Amphibian Conservation
  1. Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater swamps

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2001 of six bottomland swamp stands in Georgia, USA (Moseley et al. 2003) found that burned stands had a shorter tree canopy than unburned stands, but there were no other significant differences in vegetation structure or abundance. Burned stands had a shorter canopy (21 m) than unburned stands (24 m), but a statistically similar midstory height (burned: 13 m; unburned: 12 m) and understory height (burned: 26 cm; unburned: 26 cm). The treatments also had a statistically similar basal area (burned: 31.6; unburned: 30.3 m2/ha), midstory density (burned: 1,342; unburned: 2,370 stems/ha), understory density (burned: 170; unburned: 98 stems/6 m2). The same was true separately for understory grasses (37 vs 1 stems/6 m2), vines (30 vs 38 stems/6 m2), shrubs (75 vs 26 stems/6 m2) and other woody plants (26 vs 32 stems/6 m2). Methods: In summer 2001, vegetation was surveyed in six stands of poorly drained, bottomland hardwood forest. Three stands had been burned every 2–3 years for the past nine years (final burn January 2001). The other three stands had not been burned for at least nine years. Canopy and midstory vegetation were surveyed in two 0.04-ha plots/stand. Understory vegetation was surveyed in six 1-m2 quadrats/plot.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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

    A replicated, controlled study in 2001 of a bottomland hardwood forest in Georgia, USA (Moseley, Castleberry & Schweitzer 2003) found that prescribed burning did not increase the  abundance, diversity or richness of amphibians. Abundance did not differ significantly at burned and unburned sites for all amphibians (burned: 43; unburned: 62), salamanders (2 vs 6) or frogs and toads (39 vs 50). The same was true for species richness overall (burned: 8; unburned: 8 species), for salamanders (2 vs 2) or frogs and toads (6 vs 6). The volume of coarse woody debris was similar in burned (60 m3/ha) and unburned stands (128 m3/ha). Amphibians were monitored in three winter-burned and unburned stands from July to October 2001. Drift-fencing with pitfall traps, artificial cover boards and PVC pipe refugia were randomly placed within each site.


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