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Chalmandrier, L., Midgley, G.F., Barnard, P. and Sirami, C. 2013. Effects of time since fire on birds in a plant diversity hotspot. Acta Oecologica, 49: 99-106


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Effects of time since fire on birds in a plant diversity hotspot.

Summary / Notes:

Global changes are influencing fire regimes in many parts of the world. In the Fynbos plant diversity hotspot (Cape Floristic Region, South Africa), fire frequency has increased in protected areas where the mean fire interval went from 12-19 to 6-9 years between 1970 and 2000. Fire is one of the main drivers of plant diversity in the Cape Floristic Region. Too frequent fires threaten the persistence of slowmaturing plant species, and such insights have led to the adoption of fire management principles based on plant responses. The effects of fire on Fynbos fauna are much more poorly understood, and have not generally been considered in depth in Fynbos conservation policies, planning or management. We assessed the response of bird communities to long-term fire-induced vegetation changes using spacefor-time substitution. We studied bird communities, vegetation structure and plant functional composition in 84 Fynbos plots burnt between two and 18 years before. Ten of the 14 bird species analysed showed a significant change in their abundance with time since fire. We observed a significant species turnover along the post-fire succession due to changes both in vegetation structure and plant functional composition, with a haracteristic shift from non-Fynbos specialists and granivorous species to Fynbos specialists and nectarivorous species. If current trends of increasing fire frequency continue, Fynbos endemic birds such as nectarivores may become vulnerable. Conservation management should thus aim more carefully to maintain mosaics of Fynbos patches of different ages. Future research needs to estimate the proportion of vegetation of different ages and patch sizes needed to support dependent fauna, particularly endemics. Keywords: Fire, Fynbos, Bird life history trait, Secondary succession, Time since fire, Disturbance.

Year: 2013

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1146609X13000581


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