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Quantitative approaches for evaluating fire effects on wildlife communities in National Forest Systems

August, 2011

Innovative quantitative approaches are needed to study wildlife species, especially species of special concern for National Forest Systems. These species often occur at low densities and within patchy distributions. Analytical applications are being developed for several collaborative projects evaluating fire effects on wildlife communities. Cost-effective sampling designs are important to evaluate ecosystem function with response to management strategies and/or science hypotheses in wildlife populations and communities.


Bayesian statistics and hierarchical models, occupancy models, and mark-recapture models are used to evaluate population and community dynamics of wildlife species at multiple scales and time periods. These approaches involve both simulation and estimation of important parameters including species richness, local species colonization and extinction, and species distribution. With these advanced models, important covariates (e.g., fire severity, time since fire, local or landscape scales, vegetation structure) can be evaluated simultaneously. Results are directly applicable to resource management for building resilient forests.

Current projects include:

  • Assessing large-scale effects of wildfire and climate change on avian communities and habitats in the Sky Islands, Arizona

  • Prescribed fire effects on small mammals in the grassland ecosystem of the western Great Plains, Kiowa National Grassland

  • Long-term post-wildfire correlates with avian community dynamics in ponderosa pine forests, Hochderferr-Horseshoe wildfires in northern Arizona

  • Avian relationships with wildfire at two dry forest locations with different historic fire regimes in Arizona and Idaho

  • Sampling design and occupancy of Mexican spotted owls in the Rodeo-Chediski wildfire area, Arizona


Sanderlin, Jamie S. ; Block, William M. ; Ganey, Joseph L. , 2014

Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Research Staff:
Funding Contributors:
National Fire Plan
U.S. Fish & Wildlife's Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative