As part of a larger study examining the role of prescribed fire in regenerating upland oaks (Quercus spp.), seasonal prescribed burns (winter, spring, summer, and unburned control) were applied to first-stage shelterwood-harvested stands on Horsepen Wildlife Management Area in the Virginia Piedmont in 1995. Because fire impacts are poorly documented for herpetofaunal communities, we surveyed these stands in 1996 capturing 133 individuals of ten species during over 12,720 pitfall trapnights. We found no significant differences in relative abundance of Eastern Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) (P = 0.26), American Toads (Bufo americanus) (P = 0.93), or all amphibians combined (P = 0.25) among unburned shelterwood stands and those treated with winter, spring, or summer burns. Three species of reptiles (Northern Fence Lizard [Sceloporus undulatus], Ground Skink [Scincella lateralis], and Southeastern Five-lined Skink [Eumeces inexpectatus]) combined were captured more frequently in burned versus unburned stands (P = 0.02). Based on a stepwise multiple regression model, Eastern Red-backed Salamander captures were more strongly influenced by landscape variables (P = 0.0320), including distance to permanent water and mesic (i.e., eastern-northern) aspects, than by fire treatments (P = 0.26). Similar landscape models were not significant (P < 0.05) for toads or reptiles. Based on these results, prescribed fire may not be detrimental to herpetofaunal communities in oak dominated forests in the Virginia Piedmont.
Keyser, Patrick D.; Sausville, David J.; Ford, W. Mark; Schwab, Donald J.; and Brose, Patrick H.
"Prescribed Fire Impacts to Amphibians and Reptiles in Shelterwood-harvested Oak-dominated Forests,"
Virginia Journal of Science: Vol. 55:
4, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.odu.edu/vjs/vol55/iss4/2