Resource specialists at Dinosaur National Monument utilize both planned and unplanned wildland ignitions in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)–dominated plant communities to restore successional processes, maintain vegetation vigor, and promote diversified landscapes. Short- and long-term effects of prescribed burning on small mammal populations are not well understood. The objectives of this study were to (1) compare small mammal species richness, similarity, and diversity between paired burned and unburned treatment plots, and (2) assess long-term trends of small mammal community responses to burning. Five paired burned/unburned sites having similar vegetation, soils, elevation, and annual precipitation were selected. Prescribed or natural fires occurred on all sites between 1981 and 1995, followed by periodic small mammal removal (trapping) sampling (1–12 years post-burn). Small mammal species richness and diversity were generally higher on unburned than burned plots across post-burn sampling years and sites. Increased abundance of the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) following burning resulted in decreased community diversity. Species similarities between burned and unburned plots were low in early post-burn years but increased in later post-burn years. Short-term shifts in diversity and species similarity resulted from increased deer mouse abundance after burning. However, burning had no long-term impact on species richness and similarity, indicating minimal effect to other small mammal species.
Olson, Richard A.; Perryman, Barry L.; Petersburg, Stephen; and Naumann, Tamara
"Fire effects on small mammal communities in Dinosaur National Monument,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 63
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol63/iss1/6