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Project ID: 13-1-06-16

Year: 2013

Date Started: 07/01/2013

Ending Date:  06/30/2017

Title: Determining Prescribed Fire and Fuel Treatment Compatibility with Semidesert Grassland Habitat Rehabilitation for the Critically Endangered Masked Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus Ridgwayi)

Project Proposal Abstract: Prescribed fire plays a vital role in restoring vegetation and fuel bed conditions characteristic of frequent fire regimes in southwestern semidesert grasslands. Nevertheless, fire management activities implemented at local- to landscape-scales must be compatible with specific habitat requirements for threatened and endangered gallinaceous birds. The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR) in southern Arizona was established in 1985 to provide habitat for threatened and endangered plant and animal species, with an emphasis on the critically endangered masked bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi). The masked bobwhite is a species representative of productive semidesert grasslands with a diversity of graminoids, forbs, and leguminous shrubs. Masked bobwhite are known to occur on sites of level-terrain of moderate elevation (240-760m) with abundant grass cover and seed producing plants, a high diversity of forbs and interspersed woody plant cover. Semidesert grasslands are also some of the most highly altered sites in the arid Southwest due to heavy livestock grazing, prolonged drought and disrupted fire regimes since the late 1800s. Rehabilitating suitable habitat and grassland conditions is essential to re-establishing self-sustaining masked bobwhite populations in the US and Mexico. Specifically monitoring and assessment of prescribed fire effects on native and non-native grass, forb, and woody plant cover, diversity, species composition and structure is critically needed for adapting prescribed burning techniques that can best achieve desired habitat rehabilitation objectives. The proposed project seeks to: 1) Improve field sampling methods to efficiently monitor long- and short-term fire treatment effects on fine fuel loads and semidesert grassland composition and structure important to masked bobwhite survival and reproduction, 2) Compare bobwhite habitat conditions and suitability model outputs according to fire management histories summarized from a newly developed digital data atlas depicting 1985 to 2011 fire treatments for assessing how fire frequency, levels of severity and spatial and temporal pattern of burn can most likely achieve masked bobwhite habitat rehabilitation, and 3) In addition to fire treatment effects, we will determine how other interacting site biophysical factors such as annual variation in rainfall, soil substrates, terrain variability and other edaphic factors may positively or adversely impact habitat conditions modified by fire. To the degree possible, grazing history and other land use factors will also be considered. The proposed project will provide fire and fuels specialist and other natural resource managers with baseline information to determine specific burn parameters that can best achieve fuel treatment compatible with masked bobwhite habitat rehabilitation and recovery objectives.

Principal Investigator: Steven E. Sesnie

Agency/Organization: FWS-Fish and Wildlife Service

Branch or Dept: Region 2-Southwest Regional Office

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Cindy L. Judge

Northern Arizona University

Office of Grant & Contract Service

Budget Contact

Leslie S. Medina

FWS-Fish and Wildlife Service

Region 2-Southwest Regional Office

Co-Principal Investigator

Brett G. Dickson

Northern Arizona University

School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability

Co-Principal Investigator

Lacrecia A. Johnson

FWS-Fish and Wildlife Service

Region 2-Biological Services

Co-Principal Investigator

Thomas D. Sisk

Northern Arizona University

School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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