Prescribed burns can threaten pine Savannah amphibians

ty and abundance was far lower in areas that had been burned more recently. An analysis correcting for variations in environmental factors (such as leaf litter and pond pH) suggests that there are roughly twice as many species per pond in areas burned 10 years ago than in those burned three years ago. Similarly, the analysis suggests that there are about 50% more amphibians per pond in areas burned 12 years ago than in those burned three years ago.

While pine savannah amphibians do better with less frequent fires, longleaf pines do better with more frequent fires. To compromise, Schurbon and Fauth recommend increasing the prescribed burn cycle from every two-to-three years to about every five years. The researchers also recommend shifting the prescribed burns from the winter to the summer, which is when the pine savannahs burned historically. This shift would benefit both the amphibians and the longleaf pines: summer fires have the ecological advantages of not interrupting amphibian breeding and of controlling hardwoods more effectively.


Contact: Jamie Schurbon
736-434-2030 X12
Society for Conservation Biology

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