Response of Chaparral-Associated Mammals to Fire

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Response of Chaparral-Associated Mammals to Fire

Postfire Rabbits

 A large area of chaparral habitat in Cleveland National Forest burned in the Cedar fire. We are currently studying the recovery rodents (small mammals), carnivores (large mammals), and bats within these burned chaparral areas.

Fire affects mammal populations both directly and indirectly. Besides killing animals directly, fires alter the resources (primarily food and shelter) available to any animals surviving after fire. Fire severity will influence levels of direct mortality and subsequent available resources. For example, severe fires may be followed by slow regrowth of the vegetation that provides food and shelter for many species. A fire’s size and shape determine the distance to unburned habitat where resources may be plentiful and from which animals may need to disperse to recolonize recovering habitat. Thus we are examining how fire severity and distance to the burn edge influence recovery patterns by species.