International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
REVIEW

Experimental designs for studying small-mammal responses to fire in North American conifer forests

Jenna Hutchen A , Logan A. Volkmann A and Karen E. Hodges A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biology, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Science Building, 1177 Research Road, Kelowna, BC, V1V 1V7, Canada.

B Corresponding author. Email: karen.hodges@ubc.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(6) 523-531 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16223
Submitted: 27 September 2016  Accepted: 10 March 2017   Published: 2 May 2017

Abstract

Climate change is altering fire regimes. As fire regimes change, it is important to understand how mammals respond to these altered post-fire landscapes. Because fires vary in size, severity and landscape context, it is important to know the experimental designs and response variables used to address post-fire responses of mammals. We analysed 48 papers published from 1988 to 2015 that examined responses of small mammals to natural or prescribed fire in North American conifer forests. These papers used different experimental contrasts (e.g. burned vs unburned sites, time series, within-fire heterogeneity). Most studies (89.6%) presented species richness or index-derived abundances of common species as their response variable(s). Many studies did not fully describe the fires being examined; these omissions make it more difficult to interpret and compare results among studies. The limited scope of inference presented by the papers in this review leads us to recommend a minimal set of information that should be presented about each fire studied. We conclude by outlining how different experimental designs and response variables can be used for effective inference. We highlight major pathways forward for examining responses of small forest mammals to the important changes in fire regime that are occurring.

Additional keywords: boreal forest, deer mice, deermice, inference, montane forest, prescribed fire, species richness, wildfire.


References

Allard-Duchêne A, Pothier D, Dupuch A, Fortin D (2014) Temporal changes in habitat use by snowshoe hares and red squirrels during post-fire and post-logging forest succession. Forest Ecology and Management 313, 17–25.
Temporal changes in habitat use by snowshoe hares and red squirrels during post-fire and post-logging forest succession.CrossRef |

Amacher AJ, Barret RH, Moghaddas JJ, Stephens SL (2008) Preliminary effects of fire and mechanical fuel treatments on the abundance of small mammals in the mixed-conifer forest in the Sierra Nevada. Forest Ecology and Management 255, 3193–3202.
Preliminary effects of fire and mechanical fuel treatments on the abundance of small mammals in the mixed-conifer forest in the Sierra Nevada.CrossRef |

Bowman DMJS (2007) Fire ecology. Progress in Physical Geography 31, 523–532.
Fire ecology.CrossRef |

Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2001) ‘Introduction to distance sampling.’ (Oxford University Press: New York).

Chia EK, Bassett M, Leonard SWJ, Holland GJ, Ritchie EG, Clarke MF, Bennett AF (2016) Effects of the fire regime on mammal occurrence after wildfire: site effects vs landscape context in fire-prone forests. Forest Ecology and Management 363, 130–139.
Effects of the fire regime on mammal occurrence after wildfire: site effects vs landscape context in fire-prone forests.CrossRef |

Driscoll DA, Lindenmayer DB, Bennet FA, Bode M, Bradstock RA, Cary GJ, Clarke MF, Dexter N, Fensham R, Friend G, Gill M, James S, Kay G, Keith DA, MacGregor C, Russell-Smith J, Salt D, Watson JEM, Williams RJ, York A (2010) Fire management for biodiversity conservation: key research questions and our capacity to answer them. Biological Conservation 143, 1928–1939.
Fire management for biodiversity conservation: key research questions and our capacity to answer them.CrossRef |

Efford MG, Fewster RM (2013) Estimating population size by spatially explicit capture–recapture. Oikos 122, 918–928.
Estimating population size by spatially explicit capture–recapture.CrossRef |

Fisher JT, Wilkinson L (2005) The response of mammals to forest fire and timber harvest in the North American boreal forest. Mammal Review 35, 51–81.
The response of mammals to forest fire and timber harvest in the North American boreal forest.CrossRef |

Fontaine JB, Kennedy PL (2012) Meta-analysis of avian and small-mammal response to fire severity and fire surrogate treatments in US fire-prone forests. Ecological Applications 22, 1547–1561.
Meta-analysis of avian and small-mammal response to fire severity and fire surrogate treatments in US fire-prone forests.CrossRef |

Fordyce A, Hradsky BA, Ritchie EG, Di Stefano J (2016) Fire affects microhabitat selection, movement patterns, and body condition of an Australian rodent (Rattus fuscipes). Journal of Mammalogy 97, 102–111.
Fire affects microhabitat selection, movement patterns, and body condition of an Australian rodent (Rattus fuscipes).CrossRef |

Freeman JP, Stohlgren TJ, Hunter ME, Omi PN, Martinson EJ, Chong GW, Brown CS (2007) Rapid assessment of post-fire plant invasions in coniferous forests of the western United States. Ecological Applications 17, 1656–1665.
Rapid assessment of post-fire plant invasions in coniferous forests of the western United States.CrossRef |

Girardin MP, Mudelsee M (2008) Past and future changes in Canadian boreal wildfire activity. Ecological Applications 18, 391–406.
Past and future changes in Canadian boreal wildfire activity.CrossRef |

Glitzenstein JS, Platt WJ, Streng DR (1995) Effects of fire regime and habitat on tree dynamics in North Florida longleaf pine savannas. Ecological Monographs 65, 441–476.

Griffiths AD, Brook BW (2014) Effect of fire on small mammals: a systematic review. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23, 1034–1043.
Effect of fire on small mammals: a systematic review.CrossRef |

Hessburg PF, Agee JK, Fanklin JF (2005) Dry forests and wildland fires of the inland Northwest USA: contrasting the landscape ecology of the presettlement and modern eras. Forest Ecology and Management 211, 117–139.
Dry forests and wildland fires of the inland Northwest USA: contrasting the landscape ecology of the presettlement and modern eras.CrossRef |

Hodges KE, Mills LS (2008) Designing fecal pellet surveys for snowshoe hares. Forest Ecology and Management 256, 1918–1926.
Designing fecal pellet surveys for snowshoe hares.CrossRef |

Hodges KE, Mills LS, Murphy KM (2009) Distribution and abundance of snowshoe hares in Yellowstone National Park. Journal of Mammalogy 90, 870–878.
Distribution and abundance of snowshoe hares in Yellowstone National Park.CrossRef |

Hohnen R, Tuft KD, Legge S, Radford IJ, Carver S, Johnson CN (2015) Post-fire habitat use of the golden-backed tree-rat (Mesembriomys macrurus) in the north-west Kimberley, Western Australia. Austral Ecology 40, 941–952.
Post-fire habitat use of the golden-backed tree-rat (Mesembriomys macrurus) in the north-west Kimberley, Western Australia.CrossRef |

Johnstone JF, Chapin FS (2006) Effects of soil burn severity on post-fire tree recruitment in boreal forests. Ecosystems 9, 14–31.
Effects of soil burn severity on post-fire tree recruitment in boreal forests.CrossRef |

Kalies EL, Dickson BG, Chambers CL, Covington WW (2012) Community occupancy responses of small mammals to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine forests, northern Arizona, USA. Ecological Applications 22, 204–217.
Community occupancy responses of small mammals to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine forests, northern Arizona, USA.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC38rhvVamtw%3D%3D&md5=e41e87b94407bdbb2457c2a18c92cd47CAS |

Keeley JE, Lubin D, Fotheringham CJ (2003) Fire and grazing impacts on plant diversity and alien plant invasions in the southern Sierra Nevada. Ecological Applications 13, 1355–1374.
Fire and grazing impacts on plant diversity and alien plant invasions in the southern Sierra Nevada.CrossRef |

Kennedy PL, JB Fontaine. (2009) Synthesis of knowledge on the effects of fire and fire surrogates on wildlife in U.S. dry forests. Oregon State University Agricultural Experimental Station. Special Report 1096. Available at https://www.firescience.gov/projects/07-S-10/project/07-S-10_07_s_10_fire_effects_wildlife_dry_forests.pdf [Verified 13 April 2017]

Knapp EE, Estes BL, Skinner CN (2009) Ecological effects of prescribed fire season: a literature review and synthesis for Managers. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, General Technical Report PSWGTR-224. (Redding, CA)

Kotliar NB, Hejl SE, Hutto RL, Saab VA, Melcher CP, McFadzen ME (2002) Effects of fire and post-fire salvage logging on avian communities in conifer-dominated forests of the western United States. Studies in Avian Biology 25, 49–64.

Krebs CJ, Boonstra R, Nams V, O’Donoghue M, Hodges KE, Boutin S (2001) Estimating snowshoe hare population density from pellet plots: a further evaluation. Canadian Journal of Zoology 79, 1–4.
Estimating snowshoe hare population density from pellet plots: a further evaluation.CrossRef |

Kronland WJ, Restani M (2011) Effects of post-fire salvage logging on cavity-nesting birds and small mammals in south-western Montana. Canadian Field Naturalist 125, 316–326.
Effects of post-fire salvage logging on cavity-nesting birds and small mammals in south-western Montana.CrossRef |

Lawes MJ, Murphy BP, Fisher A, Woinarski JCZ, Edwards AC, Russell-Smith J (2015) Small mammals decline with increasing fire extent in northern Australia: evidence from long-term monitoring in Kakadu National Park. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 712–722.
Small mammals decline with increasing fire extent in northern Australia: evidence from long-term monitoring in Kakadu National Park.CrossRef |

Leonard K. M., Koprowski J.L (2010) Effects of fire on endangered Mount Graham red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis): responses of individuals with known fates. Southwestern Naturalist 55, 217–224.
Effects of fire on endangered Mount Graham red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis): responses of individuals with known fates.CrossRef |

Lima SL, Dill LM (1990) Behavioural decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68, 619–640.
Behavioural decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus.CrossRef |

Lindenmayer DB, Noss RF (2006) Salvage logging, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology 20, 949–958.
Salvage logging, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity conservation.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD28vpslyitg%3D%3D&md5=ca0bd9b79fe2eca9a76d11dd2f3ea404CAS |

MacKenzie DI, Nichols JD, Royle JA, Pollock KH, Bailey LL, Hines JE (2006) ‘Occupancy estimation and modeling: inferring patterns and dynamics of species occurrence.’ (Elsevier: San Diego, CA).

McKelvey KS, Aubry KB, Schwartz MK (2008) Using anecdotal occurrence data for rare or elusive species: the illusion of reality and a call for evidentiary standards. Bioscience 58, 549–555.
Using anecdotal occurrence data for rare or elusive species: the illusion of reality and a call for evidentiary standards.CrossRef |

McKenzie D, Gedalof Z, Peterson DL, Mote P (2004) Climatic change, wildfire, and conservation. Conservation Biology 18, 890–902.
Climatic change, wildfire, and conservation.CrossRef |

Miller JD, Safford HD, Crimmins M, Thode AE (2009) Quantitative evidence for increasing fire forest fire severity in the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade Mountain, California and Nevada, USA. Ecosystems 12, 16–32.
Quantitative evidence for increasing fire forest fire severity in the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade Mountain, California and Nevada, USA.CrossRef |

Mills LS, Griffin PC, Hodges KE, McKelvey K, Ruggiero L, Ulizio T (2005) Pellet count indices compared to mark–recapture estimates for evaluating snowshoe hare density. The Journal of Wildlife Management 69, 1053–1062.
Pellet count indices compared to mark–recapture estimates for evaluating snowshoe hare density.CrossRef |

Monamy V, Fox JB (2000) Small mammal succession is determined by vegetation density rather than time elapsed since disturbance. Austral Ecology 25, 580–587.
Small mammal succession is determined by vegetation density rather than time elapsed since disturbance.CrossRef |

National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) (2016) Statistics. Available at https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.html [Verified 2 March 2016]

Pausas JG, Keeley JE (2014) Evolutionary ecology of resprouting and seeding in fire-prone ecosystems. New Phytologist 204, 55–65.
Evolutionary ecology of resprouting and seeding in fire-prone ecosystems.CrossRef |

Perera AH, Buse LJ (2014) ‘Ecology of wildfire residuals in boreal forests.’ (Wiley Blackwell: London).

Simon NPP, Stratton CB, Forbes GJ, Schwab FE (2002) Similarity of small-mammal abundance in post-fire and clearcut forests. Forest Ecology and Management 165, 163–172.
Similarity of small-mammal abundance in post-fire and clearcut forests.CrossRef |

Smucker KM, Hutto RL, Steele BM (2005) Changes in bird abundance after wildfire: importance of fire severity and time since fire. Ecological Applications 15, 1535–1549.
Changes in bird abundance after wildfire: importance of fire severity and time since fire.CrossRef |

Stocks BJ, Mason JA, Todd JB, Bosch EM, Wotton BM, Amiro BD, Flannigan MD, Hirsch KG, Logan KA, Martell DL, Skinner WR (2003) Large forest fires in Canada, 1959–1997. Journal of Geophysical Research 107, 1–12.

Sullivan TP, Lautenchlager RA, Wagner RG (1999) Clearcutting and burning of northern spruce forests: implications for small-mammal communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 36, 327–344.
Clearcutting and burning of northern spruce forests: implications for small-mammal communities.CrossRef |

Turner MG, Hargrove WW, Gardner RH, Romme WH (1994) Effects of fire on landscape heterogeneity in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Journal of Vegetation Science 5, 731–742.
Effects of fire on landscape heterogeneity in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.CrossRef |

Turner MG, Baker WL, Peterson CJ, Peet RK (1998) Factors influencing succession: lessons from large, infrequent natural disturbances. Ecosystems 1, 511–523.
Factors influencing succession: lessons from large, infrequent natural disturbances.CrossRef |

Turner MG, Romme WH, Tinker DB (2003) Surprises and lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone fires. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1, 351–358.
Surprises and lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone fires.CrossRef |

Wan S, Hui D, Luo Y (2001) Fire effects on nitrogen pools and dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Ecological Applications 11, 1349–1365.
Fire effects on nitrogen pools and dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis.CrossRef |

Watson SJ, Taylor RS, Nimmo DG, Kelly LT, Clarke MF, Bennett AF (2012) The influence of unburnt patches and distance from refuges on post-fire bird communities. Animal Conservation 15, 499–507.
The influence of unburnt patches and distance from refuges on post-fire bird communities.CrossRef |

Westerling AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR, Swetnam TW (2006) Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfires. Science 313, 940–943.
Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfires.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28XotFCitbo%3D&md5=cbcea74aa07cca2474f3f7a57e8a12acCAS |

Zwolak R (2009) A meta-analysis of the effects of wildfire, clearcutting, and partial harvest on the abundance of North American small mammals. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 539–545.
A meta-analysis of the effects of wildfire, clearcutting, and partial harvest on the abundance of North American small mammals.CrossRef |

Zwolak R, Pearson DE, Ortega YK, Crone EE (2010) Fire and mice: seed predation moderates fire’s influence on conifer recruitment. Ecology 91, 1124–1131.
Fire and mice: seed predation moderates fire’s influence on conifer recruitment.CrossRef |

Zwolak R, Pearson DE, Ortega YK, Crone EE (2012) Mechanisms driving post-fire abundance of a generalist mammal. Canadian Journal of Zoology 90, 51–60.
Mechanisms driving post-fire abundance of a generalist mammal.CrossRef |

Zwolak R, Meagher S, Vaughn JW, Dziemian D, Crone EE (2013) Reduced ectoparasite loads of deer mice in burned forest: from fleas to trees? Ecosphere 4, 132
Reduced ectoparasite loads of deer mice in burned forest: from fleas to trees?CrossRef |



Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (205 KB) Export Citation