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Canada lynx use of burned areas: Conservation implications of changing fire regimes

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

A fundamental problem in ecology is forecasting how species will react to major disturbances. As the climate warms, large, frequent, and severe fires are restructuring forested landscapes at large spatial scales, with unknown impacts on imperilled predators. We use the United States federally Threatened Canada lynx as a case study to examine how predators navigate recent large burns, with particular focus on habitat features and the spatial configuration (e.g., distance to edge) that enabled lynx use of these transformed landscapes. We coupled GPS location data of lynx in Washington in an area with several recent large fires and a number of GIS layers of habitat data to develop models of lynx habitat selection in recent burns. Random Forest habitat models showed lynx‐selected islands of forest skipped by large fires, residual vegetation, and areas where some trees survived to use newly burned areas. Lynx used burned areas as early as 1 year postfire, which is much earlier than the 2–4 decades postfire previously thought for this predator. These findings are encouraging for predator persistence in the face of fires, but increasingly severe fires or management that reduces postfire residual trees or slow regeneration will likely jeopardize lynx and other predators. Fire management should change to ensure heterogeneity is retained within the footprint of large fires to enable viable predator populations as fire regimes worsen with climate change.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Lynx selection of habitat within the Tripod Burn. Probability of use represents the effect of a focal habitat variable on lynx habitat selection when the effect of all other habitat variables in the model is averaged. Histograms show the distribution of the focal habitat variable throughout the Tripod Burn study area. The dots represent the percentage of lynx points found within each histogram category of the focal habitat variable. Panels show lynx use of (a) new, high‐severity burn at a broad scale; (b) new, high‐severity burn at a fine scale; (c) fire skips at a broad scale; (d) fire skips at a fine scale; and (e) distance to the edge of the burn
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ece32824-fig-0004: Lynx selection of habitat within the Tripod Burn. Probability of use represents the effect of a focal habitat variable on lynx habitat selection when the effect of all other habitat variables in the model is averaged. Histograms show the distribution of the focal habitat variable throughout the Tripod Burn study area. The dots represent the percentage of lynx points found within each histogram category of the focal habitat variable. Panels show lynx use of (a) new, high‐severity burn at a broad scale; (b) new, high‐severity burn at a fine scale; (c) fire skips at a broad scale; (d) fire skips at a fine scale; and (e) distance to the edge of the burn

Mentions: Only 5.7% (789 of 13,972) of lynx locations near the Tripod Burn were within burned areas (Figure 3). Surprisingly, however, lynx used new burned areas regularly, entering them as early as 1 year postfire, and were able to make the best of the burn by selecting habitat characteristics that provided cover. The majority of the lynx points within the burn were not the result of multiday forays but rather were individual fixes sandwiched between locations in mature forest. Within the Tripod Burn, the top predictors of lynx locations were variables describing burn severity or distance from the edge of the burn (Figure 4, Figure S1). Within the Tripod Burn, lynx selected areas near to residual trees or fire skips, especially a large island of regenerating trees that resulted from the 1970 Forks fire (1,850 ha). In addition, 79% of the lynx locations within the Tripod Burn were <1,000 m from the fire perimeter or in or near a patch of residual trees. Variable importance scores show that lynx avoided areas of recent high‐severity burn and areas further than ~500 m from the burn perimeter. At a broad scale (0.66 km2), lynx selected for areas with fire skips and high canopy cover. At a fine scale (0.008 km2), lynx selected areas with residual patches. Climate, topography, and forest type selection patterns were of much less importance than selection explained by burn variables (Figure S1).


Canada lynx use of burned areas: Conservation implications of changing fire regimes
Lynx selection of habitat within the Tripod Burn. Probability of use represents the effect of a focal habitat variable on lynx habitat selection when the effect of all other habitat variables in the model is averaged. Histograms show the distribution of the focal habitat variable throughout the Tripod Burn study area. The dots represent the percentage of lynx points found within each histogram category of the focal habitat variable. Panels show lynx use of (a) new, high‐severity burn at a broad scale; (b) new, high‐severity burn at a fine scale; (c) fire skips at a broad scale; (d) fire skips at a fine scale; and (e) distance to the edge of the burn
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383493&req=5

ece32824-fig-0004: Lynx selection of habitat within the Tripod Burn. Probability of use represents the effect of a focal habitat variable on lynx habitat selection when the effect of all other habitat variables in the model is averaged. Histograms show the distribution of the focal habitat variable throughout the Tripod Burn study area. The dots represent the percentage of lynx points found within each histogram category of the focal habitat variable. Panels show lynx use of (a) new, high‐severity burn at a broad scale; (b) new, high‐severity burn at a fine scale; (c) fire skips at a broad scale; (d) fire skips at a fine scale; and (e) distance to the edge of the burn
Mentions: Only 5.7% (789 of 13,972) of lynx locations near the Tripod Burn were within burned areas (Figure 3). Surprisingly, however, lynx used new burned areas regularly, entering them as early as 1 year postfire, and were able to make the best of the burn by selecting habitat characteristics that provided cover. The majority of the lynx points within the burn were not the result of multiday forays but rather were individual fixes sandwiched between locations in mature forest. Within the Tripod Burn, the top predictors of lynx locations were variables describing burn severity or distance from the edge of the burn (Figure 4, Figure S1). Within the Tripod Burn, lynx selected areas near to residual trees or fire skips, especially a large island of regenerating trees that resulted from the 1970 Forks fire (1,850 ha). In addition, 79% of the lynx locations within the Tripod Burn were <1,000 m from the fire perimeter or in or near a patch of residual trees. Variable importance scores show that lynx avoided areas of recent high‐severity burn and areas further than ~500 m from the burn perimeter. At a broad scale (0.66 km2), lynx selected for areas with fire skips and high canopy cover. At a fine scale (0.008 km2), lynx selected areas with residual patches. Climate, topography, and forest type selection patterns were of much less importance than selection explained by burn variables (Figure S1).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

A fundamental problem in ecology is forecasting how species will react to major disturbances. As the climate warms, large, frequent, and severe fires are restructuring forested landscapes at large spatial scales, with unknown impacts on imperilled predators. We use the United States federally Threatened Canada lynx as a case study to examine how predators navigate recent large burns, with particular focus on habitat features and the spatial configuration (e.g., distance to edge) that enabled lynx use of these transformed landscapes. We coupled GPS location data of lynx in Washington in an area with several recent large fires and a number of GIS layers of habitat data to develop models of lynx habitat selection in recent burns. Random Forest habitat models showed lynx&#8208;selected islands of forest skipped by large fires, residual vegetation, and areas where some trees survived to use newly burned areas. Lynx used burned areas as early as 1&nbsp;year postfire, which is much earlier than the 2&ndash;4 decades postfire previously thought for this predator. These findings are encouraging for predator persistence in the face of fires, but increasingly severe fires or management that reduces postfire residual trees or slow regeneration will likely jeopardize lynx and other predators. Fire management should change to ensure heterogeneity is retained within the footprint of large fires to enable viable predator populations as fire regimes worsen with climate change.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus