Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Dr. Philip Higuera

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences

Abstract

As the frequency of wildfire increases throughout the Rocky Mountain West, it has become increasingly important to understand how wildfire may impact natural resources and wildlife habitat. Characterizing avifaunal communities is one method to determine how a habitat changes after disturbance. Research shows that different avifaunal communities assemble according to combination of time-since-fire and fire severity due to differences in habitat structure and resource availability. However, data are lacking regarding how avian communities may change during the year of the fire. Yet, one can expect avian communities would change due to transitory differences in habitat and resources the year of the fire such as seed availability and insects. This study characterizes the differences between bird communities utilizing burned areas in the year of and one year after wildfires in order to elucidate how communities change throughout. Comparing two discrete Montana wildfires during the same sampling period in 2018, this study sampled 32 points within the Reynolds Lake Fire of 2018 and 34 within the Lolo Peak Fire of 2017. The points were sampled during the nonbreeding avian season for vegetation data such as species composition and canopy cover and point count data in order to characterize both habitat and avian community information. Pending further analysis, preliminary results show significant differences in avian communities between the fires, such as significant increases in woodpecker activity the year of the fire as compared to increased species diversity the year after the fire. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that year of the fire has unique avifaunal assemblages compared to the year after fire. Understanding how avian species utilize their habitat the year of the fire can provide more information for managers making recommendations for actions often taken during this period such as salvage logging or other restoration activities.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 17th, 10:20 AM Apr 17th, 10:40 AM

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Comparisons of Recent Post-Fire Avifaunal Communities in Montana Subalpine Forests

UC 330

As the frequency of wildfire increases throughout the Rocky Mountain West, it has become increasingly important to understand how wildfire may impact natural resources and wildlife habitat. Characterizing avifaunal communities is one method to determine how a habitat changes after disturbance. Research shows that different avifaunal communities assemble according to combination of time-since-fire and fire severity due to differences in habitat structure and resource availability. However, data are lacking regarding how avian communities may change during the year of the fire. Yet, one can expect avian communities would change due to transitory differences in habitat and resources the year of the fire such as seed availability and insects. This study characterizes the differences between bird communities utilizing burned areas in the year of and one year after wildfires in order to elucidate how communities change throughout. Comparing two discrete Montana wildfires during the same sampling period in 2018, this study sampled 32 points within the Reynolds Lake Fire of 2018 and 34 within the Lolo Peak Fire of 2017. The points were sampled during the nonbreeding avian season for vegetation data such as species composition and canopy cover and point count data in order to characterize both habitat and avian community information. Pending further analysis, preliminary results show significant differences in avian communities between the fires, such as significant increases in woodpecker activity the year of the fire as compared to increased species diversity the year after the fire. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that year of the fire has unique avifaunal assemblages compared to the year after fire. Understanding how avian species utilize their habitat the year of the fire can provide more information for managers making recommendations for actions often taken during this period such as salvage logging or other restoration activities.