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Avian response to wildfire in interior Columbia basin shrubsteppe

January 1, 2009

Wildfire and conversion of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) shrublands to cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) grasslands is a serious threat to the shrubsteppe ecosystem, but few studies have documented wildfire's effects on birds with multiple years of pre- and post-fire data. Using data from avian point counts recorded 4 years before and 7 years after a large-scale, severe wildfire in the Columbia Basin of south-central Washington, we found significant effects of fire on population trends or mean abundance of nearly all species investigated. The Sage Sparrow (Amphispiza belli), a sagebrush obligate, was decreasing at a high rate both pre- and post-fire. Among species inhabiting more open shrubsteppe or grasslands, the mean abundance of three (Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum; Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta; Vesper Sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus) was lower post-fire and one (Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus) showed an initial, but short-lived, increase post-fire before dropping below pre-fire levels. Only one (Horned Lark, Eremophila alpestris) increased steadily post-fire and had higher post-fire mean abundance. ?? 2009 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2009
Title Avian response to wildfire in interior Columbia basin shrubsteppe
DOI 10.1525/cond.2009.080109
Authors S.L. Earnst, H.L. Newsome, W.L. LaFramboise, N. LaFramboise
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Condor
Series Number
Index ID 70036739
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center