Fire Ecology, 2008
Volume 4, Issue 2
Modeling the Effects of Fire Severity and Spatial Complexity on Small Mammals in Yosemite National Park, California
Authors: Susan L. Roberts, Jan W. van Wagtendonk, A. Keith Miles, Douglas A. Kelt, and James A. Lutz
We evaluated the impact of fire severity and related spatial and vegetative parameters on small mammal populations in 2 yr- to 15 yr-old burns in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. We also developed habitat models that would predict small mammal responses to fires of differing severity. We hypothesized that fire severity would influence the abundances of small mammals through changes in vegetation composition, structure, and spatial habitat complexity. Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) abundance responded negatively to fire severity, and brush mouse (P. boylii) abundance increased with increasing oak tree (Quercus spp.) cover. Chipmunk (Neotamias spp.) abundance was best predicted through a combination of a negative response to oak tree cover and a positive response to spatial habitat complexity. California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi) abundance increased with increasing spatial habitat complexity. Our results suggest that fire severity, with subsequent changes in vegetation structure and habitat spatial complexity, can influence small mammal abundance patterns.