Reptile responses to fire and the risk of post-disturbance sampling bias

Driscoll, Don A, Smith, Annabel L, Blight, Samantha and Maindonald, John 2012, Reptile responses to fire and the risk of post-disturbance sampling bias, Biodiversity and conservation, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 1607-1625, doi: 10.1007/s10531-012-0267-5.

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Title Reptile responses to fire and the risk of post-disturbance sampling bias
Author(s) Driscoll, Don AORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A
Smith, Annabel L
Blight, Samantha
Maindonald, John
Journal name Biodiversity and conservation
Volume number 21
Issue number 6
Start page 1607
End page 1625
Total pages 19
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2012-06
ISSN 0960-3115
Keyword(s) Adaptive management
Biological legacies
Disturbance regime
Keystone species
Prescribed burning
State and transition model
Summary Altered fire regimes are a driver of biodiversity decline. To plan effective management, we need to know how species are influenced by fire and to develop theory describing fire responses. Animal responses to fire are usually measured using methods that rely on animal activity, but animal activity may vary with time since fire, potentially biasing results. Using a novel approach for detecting bias in the pit-fall trap method, we found that leaf-litter dependent reptiles were more active up to 6 weeks after fire, giving a misleading impression of abundance. This effect was not discovered when modelling detectability with zero-inflated binomial models. Two species without detection bias showed early-successional responses to time since fire, consistent with a habitat-accommodation succession model. However, a habitat specialist did not have the predicted low abundance after fire due to increased post-fire movement and non-linear recovery of a key habitat component. Interactions between fire and other processes therefore must be better understood to predict reptile responses to changing fire-regimes. We conclude that there is substantial bias when trapping reptiles after fire, with species that are otherwise hard to detect appearing to be abundant. Studies that use a survey method based on animal activity such as bird calls or animal movements, likely face a similar risk of bias when comparing recently-disturbed with control sites.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s10531-012-0267-5
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2012, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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