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Response of birds to fire in the American southwestAuthor(s): Carl E. Bock; William M. Block
Source: In: Ralph, C. John; Rich, Terrell D., editors 2005. Bird Conservation Implementation and Integration in the Americas: Proceedings of the Third International Partners in Flight Conference. 2002 March 20-24; Asilomar, California, Volume 2 Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: p. 1093-1099
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (348.0 KB)
DescriptionFire was a common prehistoric disturbance in most southwestern grasslands, oak savannas, and coniferous forests, but not in Sonoran and Mojave desertscrub, or in riparian ecosystems. Prescribed burning should be applied, but under experimental conditions that facilitate studying its impacts on birds and other components of biodiversity. Fire plays a critical role in maintaining a balance between desert grassland and Chihuahuan desertscrub, but unburned areas also are important for birds dependent upon woody vegetation and/or heavy grass cover. Understory fire probably once played a critical role in maintaining relatively open oak (Quercus spp.), pinyon-juniper (Pinus- Juniperus), and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) woodlands and their bird assemblages, while stand replacement fires sustained aspen groves (Populus tremuloides) at higher elevations. Carefully controlled prescribed burning, thinning, and grazing management will be needed to return fire to its prehistoric role in these habitats. There is an urgent need for cooperative effort between managers and researchers to implement replicated burns to quantify avian responses in appropriate habitats.
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CitationBock, Carl E.; Block, William M. 2005. Response of birds to fire in the American southwest. In: Ralph, C. John; Rich, Terrell D., editors 2005. Bird Conservation Implementation and Integration in the Americas: Proceedings of the Third International Partners in Flight Conference. 2002 March 20-24; Asilomar, California, Volume 2 Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: p. 1093-1099
Keywordsbirds, desert, fire, grassland, mixed-conifer, pine-oak, prescribed burning, riparian, savanna, Southwest
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