Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Response of Birds to Wildfire in Native versus Exotic Arizona Grassland

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1992
Authors:Bock, CE, Bock, JH
Journal:The Southwestern Naturalist
Date Published:1992
ISBN Number:00384909
Keywords:Aimophila, Aimophila botterii, Aimophila cassinii, Alaudidae, Ammodramus, Ammodramus savannarum, Chondestes, Chondestes grammacus, Columbidae, Emberizidae, Eremophila, Eremophila alpestris, Icteridae, Passerculus, Passerculus sandwichensis, Peucaea, Peucaea botterii, Peucaea cassinii, Pooecetes, Pooecetes gramineus, Sturnella, Sturnella magna, Zenaida, Zenaida macroura
Abstract:We measured vegetation cover and bird abundances on 25 native and 25 exotic grassland plots in southeastern Arizona between 1984 and 1990. A wildfire in 1987 completely burned 11 native and 11 exotic plots. The fire reduced grass and shrub cover, and increased herb cover, for 2 post-fire years in both grassland types. Numbers of fall birds increased dramatically on burned plots in both habitats for 2 years, probably in response to increased seed production and availability. Dominant species attracted to the burn were mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), and savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis). Summer bird species responded to the fire in ways consistent with their general habitat associations. Species attracted to the burned sites for 2 or 3 years were mourning dove, horned lark, and lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). Species avoiding burned plots were grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), Botteri's sparrow (Aimophila botterii), Cassin's sparrow (Aimophila cassinii), and eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna). Fire effects were ephemeral in both native and exotic habitats for most plants and birds, and there was no evidence that burning facilitated permanent return of native species to depauperate plantations of exotic grasses. However, fire may have rendered exotic grasslands more suitable to certain summer birds by reducing otherwise heavy accumulations of litter.
Short Title:The Southwestern Naturalist
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith