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Amphibians & Reptiles

Graph showing two lines corresponding to changes in density of salamanders over 3 sampling periods. The top line slightly decreases and shows data from a burned site. The bottom line slightly increases and shows data from a control, or unburned, site.

Habitat-dependent responses of terrestrial salamanders to wildfire in the short-term

Gade et al., 2019

Wildfire is an important natural disturbance event that promotes landscape heterogeneity and regulates many wildlife communities. The compounding effects of fire suppression and climate change have increased the frequency and severity of wildfire, but the responses of many organisms to wildfire is unknown. Landscape heterogeneity, specifically microhabitats, may mediate and buffer the effects of wildfire, and evaluating variable responses to wildfire given habitat is key to developing a more cohesive understanding of population responses. Terrestrial plethodontid salamanders are likely disproportionality affected by wildfire events because of their lungless anatomy and reliance on cool and moist habitats. ...

Influence of prescribed fire and forest structure on woodland salamander abundance in the central Appalachians, USA

Jacobsen et al., 2020

Source: Forest Ecology and Management
Image from scientific publication with lines showing frog migration laid over a black and white map.

Long distance Migrations, Landscape Use, and Vulnerability to Prescribed Fire of the Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito)

Humphries & Sisson, 2012

The Gopher Frog, Lithobates capito, is an endemic to upland, fire-maintained pine forests on the Southeastern Coastal Plain and requires open, isolated wetlands for breeding. This species has experienced drastic population declines because of habitat loss and degradation and now occurs only in scattered populations in the southern United States. We tracked the post-breeding movements and burrow use of 17 Gopher Frogs in the Sandhills of North Carolina using radio telemetry. Nine frogs were successfully tracked to summer refugia; the other eight frogs shed their transmitters or were killed by predators or fire during migration. Frogs traveled 0.5−3.5 km (mean = 1.3 km) between the breeding pond and a summer refugium. ...

Image from scientific publication, three photos of frogs with description below.

Potential Positive Effects of Fire on Juvenile Amphibians in a Southern USA Pine Forest

Brown et al., 2011

Prescribed fire is a common tool used to conserve and manage the integrity of forest ecosystems. We investigated short-term juvenile amphibian capture and body condition changes subsequent to fire (i.e., one prescribed burn and two wildfires) in a southern United States pine forest. We surveyed amphibians and predatory invertebrates before and after fires occurring during summer 2010. We tested for treatment (i.e., control, wildfire, or prescribed burn) and status (i.e., preburn or postburn) differences in 1) genus-level captures, 2) amphibian health (inferred through a body condition index), and 3) predatory invertebrate captures. Bufo and Scaphiopus captures increased in the prescribed burn treatment; whereas, no differences in Gastrophryne captures were observed. We did not detect a burn status effect on amphibian body condition. Predatory invertebrate captures were higher postburn in the control and wildfire treatments. Neither a low-intensity prescribed burn nor high-intensity wildfires negatively impacted short-term juvenile amphibian captures. Further, we speculate that Bufo and Scaphiopus survivorship may have been higher after the prescribed burn.

Cover of the conference proceedings featuring title, photo of a controlled burn around a single pine tree, and USDA Forest Service Technical Report information.

Proceedings of the 4th Fire in Eastern Oak Forests Conference

Dey et al., 2011

Contains 14 full-length papers and 40 abstracts of posters that were presented at the 4th Fire in Eastern Oak Forests conference, held in Springfield, MO, May 17-19, 2011. The conference was attended by over 250 people from 65 different organizations and entities, representing 22 states and 1 Canadian province.

Figure 3 from the publication. A bar graph showing mean lizard species richness vs time for different plot treatments

Reptile and amphibian response to oak regeneration treatments in productive southern Appalachian hardwood forest

Greenberg et al., 2016

Forest restoration efforts commonly employ silvicultural methods that alter light and competition to influence species composition. Changes to forest structure and microclimate may adversely affect some taxa (e.g., terrestrial salamanders), but positively affect others (e.g., early successional birds). Salamanders are cited as indicators of ecosystem health because of their sensitivity to forest floor microclimate. We used drift fences with pitfall and funnel traps in a replicated Before-After-Control-Impact design to experimentally assess herpetofaunal community response to initial application of three silvicultural methods proposed to promote oak regeneration: prescribed burning; midstory herbicide; ...

Map call-out from western North Carolina showing an array of sites that were either controls or treated with growing-season or dormant-season burns.

Reptile and amphibian response to season of burn in an upland hardwood forest

Greenberg et al., 2018

Growing-season burns are increasingly used in upland hardwood forest for multiple forest management goals. Many species of reptiles and amphibians are ground-dwelling, potentially increasing their vulnerability to prescribed fire, especially during the growing-season when they are most active. We used drift fences with pitfall traps to experimentally assess how herpetofaunal species and communities responded to early, growing-season burns, dormant-season burns, and unburned controls. We documented no adverse effects of either growing season burns or dormant-season burns on any common herpetofaunal taxa, but capture rates of total, adult, and juvenile five-lined skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus) were greater following growing-season burns. ...

First page of publication includes title, abstract, and part of the introduction.

Short-term response of reptiles and amphibians to prescribed fire and mechanical fuel reduction in a southern Appalachian upland hardwood forest

Greenberg & Waldrop, 2008

We compared the effects of three fuel reduction techniques and a control on the relative abundance and richness of reptiles and amphibians using drift fence arrays with pitfall and funnel traps. Three replicate blocks were established at the Green River Game Land, Polk County, North Carolina. Each replicate block contained four experimental units that were each approximately 14 ha in size. Treatments were prescribed burn (B); mechanical understory reduction (M); mechanical + burn (MB); and controls (C). Mechanical treatments were conducted in winter 2001–2002, and prescribed burns in March 2003. Hot fires in MB killed about 25% of the trees, increasing canopy openness relative to controls. ...

Cover of General Technical Report, "Proceedings of the 12th Biennial Souther Silvicultural Research Conference". Green background with white font.

The Effects of Prescribed Burning and Thinning as Fuel Reduction Treatments on Herpetofauna in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina

Kilpatrick et al., 2004

Due to heavy fuel loads resulting from years of fire suppression, upland pine and mixed pine hardwood forests in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina are at risk of severe wildfire. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (NFFS) was conducted on the Clemson Experimental Forest to study the effects of prescribed burning and thinning on a multitude of factors, including herpetofauna and small mammals. Drift fence/pitfall arrays, modified pitfalls, unmodified pitfalls, and hand captures were used to sample herpetofauna. We captured 1,317 reptiles and amphibians representing 40 species from September 9, 2000 to January 9, 2002. There were no significant treatment effects on abundance within five major taxa (frogs/toads, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and snakes). However, there were treatment effects on two lizard species. ...

First page of publication includes title, abstract, and part of the introduction.

Woodland salamander responses to a shelterwood harvest-prescribed burn silvicultural treatment within Appalachian mixed-oak forests

Mahoney et al., 2016

Forest management practices that mimic natural canopy disturbances, including prescribed fire and timber harvests, may reduce competition and facilitate establishment of favorable vegetative species within various ecosystems. Fire suppression in the central Appalachian region for almost a century has contributed to a transition from oak-dominated to more mesophytic, fire-intolerant forest communities. Prescribed fire coupled with timber removal is currently implemented to aid in oak regeneration and establishment but responses of woodland salamanders to this complex silvicultural system is poorly documented. ...

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