Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Chad Bishop

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Wildlife Biology

Abstract

Wildfires occur on a worldwide scale in a range of different environments and with varying levels of severity. Currently, wildfires are occurring on a higher frequency than in the past partly due to climate change. Fire ecology studies provide valuable management information that can be used to inform decisions. However, very few of these studies have been conducted on the impacts fire has on wildlife the year following a burn. Wildlife play an important role in keeping ecosystems healthy and functioning, therefore it is important to understand how they will react with increasing fire prevalence. This study focuses on wildlife occupancy and vegetation growth in first year post burn and corresponding unburned areas in high mountain habitat, in order to determine if there is a significant difference between the study sites. Research collection occurred from May 15th to August 15th on areas burned by the Alice Creek fire (summer 2017) and unburned areas on an adjacent privately-owned ranch. In order to determine and compare wildlife occupancy in the two areas, wildlife cameras were placed throughout each study site. To determine vegetation cover and density, I used 20-meter vegetation transects. Along each transect I recorded information on vegetation species, density, height, cover and overlap. I am currently analyzing data by using the Program R package “Unmarked” to evaluate a set of competing models that reflect my hypotheses regarding variation in wildlife occupancy in burned and unburned areas. I will use Akaike’s Information Criterion corrected for small sample size (AICc) in Program R to select the model(s) that best explain observed variation in wildlife occupancy. Overall, this study will contribute important data to a relatively small pool of scientific knowledge regarding the near-term effects of fire on wildlife distribution in a high elevation pine forests.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 17th, 11:00 AM Apr 17th, 12:00 PM

Fire on the Mountain: Impacts of First-Year Burned Habitat on Wildlife Occupancy

UC South Ballroom

Wildfires occur on a worldwide scale in a range of different environments and with varying levels of severity. Currently, wildfires are occurring on a higher frequency than in the past partly due to climate change. Fire ecology studies provide valuable management information that can be used to inform decisions. However, very few of these studies have been conducted on the impacts fire has on wildlife the year following a burn. Wildlife play an important role in keeping ecosystems healthy and functioning, therefore it is important to understand how they will react with increasing fire prevalence. This study focuses on wildlife occupancy and vegetation growth in first year post burn and corresponding unburned areas in high mountain habitat, in order to determine if there is a significant difference between the study sites. Research collection occurred from May 15th to August 15th on areas burned by the Alice Creek fire (summer 2017) and unburned areas on an adjacent privately-owned ranch. In order to determine and compare wildlife occupancy in the two areas, wildlife cameras were placed throughout each study site. To determine vegetation cover and density, I used 20-meter vegetation transects. Along each transect I recorded information on vegetation species, density, height, cover and overlap. I am currently analyzing data by using the Program R package “Unmarked” to evaluate a set of competing models that reflect my hypotheses regarding variation in wildlife occupancy in burned and unburned areas. I will use Akaike’s Information Criterion corrected for small sample size (AICc) in Program R to select the model(s) that best explain observed variation in wildlife occupancy. Overall, this study will contribute important data to a relatively small pool of scientific knowledge regarding the near-term effects of fire on wildlife distribution in a high elevation pine forests.