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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Wildlife responses to thinning and burning treatments in southwestern conifer forests: A meta-analysis

Published source details

Kalies E.L., Chambers C.L. & Covington W.W. (2010) Wildlife responses to thinning and burning treatments in southwestern conifer forests: A meta-analysis. Forest Ecology and Management, 259, 333-342


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Thin trees to reduce wildfire risk Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A systematic review in 2008 of management aimed at restoring natural processes in conifer forests in southwestern USA (Kalies et al. 2010) found that, in forests thinned by removing small- to medium-diameter trees, two mammal species were recorded in higher densities compared to in unmanaged forests, while three species showed no effect. Higher densities associated with thinning were seen in gray-collared chipmunk Tamias cinereicollis and Mexican woodrat Neotoma mexicana. No significant responses to thinning were detected for tassel-eared squirrel Sciurus aberti, deer mouse Peromyscus maniculatus or golden-mantled ground squirrel Spermophilus lateralis. The review used evidence from 22 studies and considered responses of species recorded in ≥5 studies. Densities of species in ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa forests managed in five ways, to recreate natural conditions and forest dynamics and reduce wildfire risk, were compared with densities in unmanaged forest.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Use prescribed burning Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A systematic review in 2008 of management aimed at restoring natural processes in conifer forests in southwestern USA (Kalies et al. 2010) found that, in forests where a low to moderate severity prescribed burn followed thinning, two mammal species showed positive responses (abundance or reproduction) compared to in unmanaged forests while three showed no response. Responses of tassel-eared squirrel Sciurus aberti and deer mouse Peromyscus maniculatus to burning after thinning were positive. No significant responses were detected for golden-mantled ground squirrel Spermophilus lateralis, gray-collared chipmunk Tamias cinereicollis or Mexican woodrat Neotoma mexicana. The specific effects of thinning versus burning were not separated, though a different part of the same study found no response of tassel-eared squirrel or deer mouse to thinning (without burning) by removal of small to intermediate diameter trees. The review used evidence from 22 studies and considered responses of species recorded in ≥5 studies. Responses of species to five ways of managing ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa forests to recreate natural conditions and forest dynamics, and reduce wildfire risk, were assessed against responses to unmanaged controls.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)