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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Sarah J. Converse; Gary C. White; Kerry L. Farris; Steve Zack
Publication Date: 2006

Forest fuel reduction treatments are increasingly used by managers to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire and to manage changes in the ecological function of forests. However, comparative ecological effects of the various types of treatments are poorly understood. We examined short-term patterns in small-mammal responses to mechanical thinning, prescribed-fire, and mechanical thinning/prescribed-fire combination treatments at eight different study areas across the United States as a part of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate (FFS) Project. Research questions included: (1) do treatments differ in their effect on small mammal densities and biomass? and (2) are effects of treatments consistent across study areas? We modeled taxa-specific densities and total small-mammal biomass as functions of treatment types and study area effects and ranked models based on an information-theoretic model selection criterion. Small-mammal taxa examined, including deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), yellow-pine chipmunks (Tamias amoenus), and golden-mantled ground squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis), as well as all Peromyscus and Tamias species, had top-ranked models with responses varying both by treatment type and study area. In each of these cases, the top-ranked model carried between 69% and 99% of the total weight in the model set, indicating strong support for the top-ranked models. However, the top-ranked model of total small-mammal biomass was a model with biomass varying only with treatment (i.e., treated vs. untreated), not by treatment type or study area; again, this model had strong support, with 75% of the total model weight. Individual species and taxa appear to have variable responses to fuel reduction treatment types in different areas; however, total small-mammal biomass appears generally to increase after any type of fuel reduction. These results suggest that there is substantial variability in taxa-specific responses to treatments and indicate that adaptive management policies may be necessary when applying fuel reduction treatments in areas where management of small-mammal populations is of interest. Adaptive management can be used by managers who are conducting fuel reduction treatments to reduce uncertainty as to which treatments are locally optimal for meeting objectives for the management of small-mammal populations.

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Link to this document (265 KB; full text; pdf)
Citation: Converse, Sarah J.; White, Gary C.; Farris, Kerry L.; Zack, Steve. 2006. Small mammals and forest fuel reduction: national-scale responses to fire and fire surrogates. Ecological Applications 16(5):1717-1729.

Cataloging Information

Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest    National
  • abundance
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • biomass
  • Calocedrus decurrens
  • coniferous forests
  • FFS - Fire and Fire Surrogate Study
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire management
  • Florida
  • forest management
  • fuel reduction
  • mark-recapture
  • Montana
  • national parks
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Peromyscus maniculatus
  • Pinus lambertiana
  • Pinus palustris
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Pinus strobiformis
  • population density
  • population density
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • slash
  • small mammals
  • South Carolina
  • species diversity (animals)
  • Spermophilus lateralis
  • Tamias amoenus
  • thinning
  • trapping
  • Washington
  • wildlife habitat management
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20838Location Status: In-fileCall Number: Journals-EAbstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 3812

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.