The Effects Of Fire On Wildlife Term paper

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The Effects Of Fire On Wildlife-
The Effects of Fire on Wildlife- Abstract Fire is an important part of many ecosystems and helps maintain the condition of habitats for wildlife. The effect of fire ...
The Effects of Fire on Wildlife- Abstract Fire is an important part of many ecosystems and helps maintain the condition of habitats for wildlife. The effect of fire depends upon many factors, varying from the type of wildlife to their different habitats. Fire affects ungulates through positive, but often, short-lived improvements in diets by allowing ungulates to consume new plant growth (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). Fire mediates species interactions thereby reducing conflict (Coppock and
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Detling 1986). Birds are often positively benefited (Bock and Bock 1983) or unaffected by fire (Emlen 1970, Breininger and Smith 1992) in the short-term. The beneficial role of fire on terrestrial ecosystems is contrary to the negative impact of fire on aquatic ecosystems (Bozek and Young 1994). The long term effect of fire on wildlife is the maintenance of forage areas by preventing succession of a habitat to its climax state (Carlson et
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al. 1993, Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). Introduction Fire is an important part of many ecosystems, affecting wildlife populations in various ways, such as by changing habitat (Schaefer and Pruitt 1991), affecting food supply or quality (Hobbs and Spowart 1984), or by altering interactions of species (Coppock and Detling 1986). Fire suppression has allowed forested areas to achieve a climax state which provides less forage for wildlife (Carlson et al. 1993, Schaefer and
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Pruitt 1991). While terrestrial wildlife is benefited by fire, aquatic ecosystems are negatively impacted by large fires through the increase in sediment flow (Bozek and Young 1994). Fire is essential in maintaining biological diversity in the Northern Rocky Mountain forests (Hutto 1995). Nutritional Effects Fire affects nutrition of wildlife in the short-term by increasing the quality of their diets (Hobbs and Spowart 1984) or by alteration of plant content (Carlson et al. 1993,
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Hobbs and Spowart 1984, Jakubas 1994). Long-term benefits are the maintenance of habitats in forage producing conditions (Carlson et al. 1993, Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). Fire alters the type of plant material present, allowing animals to select for greater nutritional plant material thus improving their diets (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). Mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in the Rocky Mountains have higher nutritional diets following prescribed fires due mainly to
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increases in the amount of new plant growth (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). Plants utilized by the Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) in the Florida Keys Islands increase in nutritional content and digestibility for seven to eleven months following fire (Carlson et al. 1993). Although total plant material is severely reduced during fire, the plants recover to original levels or surpass them within two years (Carlson et al. 1993). Fire increases the digestibility
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and protein content of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) bark through decreases in plant secondary metabolites and organic matter (Jakubas et al. 1994). Although dead bark and burned bark show similar composition, elk use burned bark as a food source even when higher nutritional foods are present in abundance (Jackubas et al. 1994). It is presumed that elk use burned bark as a short-term food source because they can strip and consume bark in large
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amounts while expending less energy than if obtaining other food (Jakubas et al. 1994). Grazing Patterns Fire alters elk and bison grazing patterns during late winter and spring (Pearson et al. 1995). Since they are able to move large distances, their grazing patterns show preferences for burned locations (Pearson et al. 1995). During winter, habitat that has recently burned has reduced dead plant material, making access to higher protein containing forage easier (Hobbs and
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Spowart 1984). Burned grasslands have greater grass growth during the winter period due to the increase in soil temperature through the additional absorption of solar radiation in the blackened soil (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). However, topography has a great impact on frequency of grazing of particular locations (Pearson et al. 1995). Areas with southerly aspects and steep slopes do not retain snow as long and thus are used more frequently for grazing (Pearson
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et al. 1995). The beneficial effects from fire last for a few years and then decrease (Pearson et al. 1995). In grassland and shrub communities, more complete fires result in the effects lasting longer (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). Overall, winter conditions impact ungulates more than effects of fire on grazing locations (Pearson et al. 1995). The alteration of ungulate grazing patterns by fire (Pearson et al. 1995) affects other species that are impacted
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by the ungulates (Coppock and Detling 1986). Bison often graze preferentially around black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) towns accelerating changes in the plant community surrounding the town (Coppock et al. 1983). Bison will graze on recently burned locations, thus decreasing their use of areas surrounding prairie dogs colonies (Coppock and Detling 1986). Reasons proposed for the change in bison grazing include the selection for new growth and reduced dead biomass, both results of
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fire (Coppock and Detling 1986). Therefore, fire can alter how bison and prairie dogs interact, enabling managers to use fire to prevent bison from constant use and degradation of prairie dog towns (Coppock and Detling 1986). Succession Fire prevents plant communities from succession to a climax condition, therefore maintaining the habitat in a state which provides greater forage (Carlson et al. 1993, Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are adversely
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affected by crown fires in the short-term due to major losses of forage and the avoidance of burned locations by the caribou (Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). However, these fires provide the long term benefit of ensuring some of the habitat will remain as jack pine (Pinus banksiana) forest, which provides greater forage quantity for caribou (Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). Key deer are also benefited by long term maintenance of habitat (Carlson et al.
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1993). Plant species used most often by the Key deer are located in pine forests which are replaced by hardwood forests in the forest succession (Carlson et al. 1993). Fire maintains areas of jack pine forest thus benefiting the Key deer (Carlson et al. 1993). In oak-jack pine forests, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are found
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