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Assessing the resistance of a breeding amphibian community to a large wildfire

Author(s): Alberto Muñoz, Ángel M. Felicísimo, Xavier Santos
Year Published: 2019

Socioeconomic and global climate changes are modifying fire regimes towards larger and more intense fires. Studying the response of organisms to the occurrence of large fires is crucial to anticipate shifts in patterns of biodiversity in fire-prone regions. Amphibia is the most threatened terrestrial vertebrate taxon, although it is also the least studied in relation to its response to fire. We evaluated the resistance to fire (similarity in species composition before and after fire) and reproductive success during the first breeding season after a fire of an amphibian community at the Mediterranean basin. We sampled 33 aquatic habitats, including ponds and streams located inside and outside the perimeter of the fire, and reported the presence of adult amphibians and their reproductive success. The community composition in burnt and unburnt areas was compared by similarity analysis. Generalized Linear Models were used to test the effects of fire (burnt or unburnt area), habitat type (stream or pond), distance to the perimeter of the wildfire, and altitude on total and breeding species richness. We did not find significant differences in amphibian community composition between burnt and unburnt areas, or in total species richness per water point. Of the 12 species found in the study area, only frogs of the genus Hyla declined in the burnt area due to the destruction of their preferred microhabitat, i.e. vegetation surrounding ponds. In contrast, breeding occurrence and breeding species richness declined in burnt streams and ponds. These results suggest a high amphibian resistance to fire at the community level, although the reduction of breeding activity can threaten the persistence of a rich community in future scenarios of increased recurrence of megafires.

Citation: Muñoz, Alberto; Felicísimo, Ángel M.; Santos, Xavier. 2019. Assessing the resistance of a breeding amphibian community to a large wildfire. Acta Oecologica 99.
Topic(s): Fire & Wildlife, Amphibians
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20025
FRAMES RCS number: 58113
Record updated: Sep 19, 2019