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Project ID: 12-1-06-46

Year: 2012

Date Started: 09/01/2012

Ending Date:  08/31/2015

Title: Compatibility of Fire Management with Conservation of Endangered Species

Project Proposal Abstract: Ecological site descriptions (ESDs) and state-and-transition models (STMs) describe existing and potential plant communities and the ecological dynamics therein. Relating wildlife responses to STMs shows great promise for understanding how wildlife responds to natural succession, disturbance events, or management activities. In Oklahoma and Texas, two federally endangered songbirds, the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla; hereafter vireo) and the golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia; hereafter warbler) occupy habitat maintained by fire or affected by wildfire. Through coordination of fuels and fire management activities with habitat and population conservation plans for both species is necessary, limited knowledge of how vireos and warblers respond to fire have resulted in management uncertainties. Recent wildfires in Oklahoma and Texas provide a unique opportunity to assess the responses of vireos and warblers to a wide range of fire effects. We will develop species-specific STMs that represent successional phases of vireo and warbler habitat given pre- and post-fire habitat characteristics. We will then link vireo and warbler demographic information to models that depict plant community transformations, which will be translated into a tool that allows managers to minimize negative effects or enhance positive effects on vireo and warbler habitat and populations. Our research will not only provide a broad-scale assessment of vireo and warbler responses to the recent wildfires, but will also inform management aimed to sustain endangered species habitat across broad landscapes. Our broad study area includes the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma and the northern and eastern portions of the Edwards Plateau in Texas. During the past 25 years in Oklahoma and 10 years in Texas, we have gathered substantial data sets on the distribution, abundance, and general behavior of both the vireo and warbler. Thus, we have already gathered the preliminary data that are a prerequisite for developing the more focused study of endangered species and fire ecology and management proposed herein. We will choose specific sites to sample within our broader study area based on fire history, pre-fire vegetation phases, and known vireo or warbler occurrence. In year one, we will collect field data on warbler and vireo responses to fire, and use these data to verify and refine our vegetation phase classifications and to quantify transitions between the vegetative states. During year 2 we will gather data from new study locations to test and refine our predictive STM models. We will quantify abundance and productivity (i.e., pairing success and nest survival) using standard methods for point count surveys and territory monitoring. Using mixed models, we will predict vireo and warbler responses as a function of the post-fire vegetation, time since fire, and weather conditions. Our approach will provide a predictive model for which land managers can then assess conditions at a site and determine the appropriate fire prescription to illicit the desired demographic response from vireos or warblers. Combined with predictive models of vegetative responses to varying fire intensities, this approach directly addresses questions associated with how to maintain habitat, where and when to plan fire management activities, how to implement these activities to best enhance positive effects to vireos or warblers, how varying fire intensity alters successional phases, and potential climate change impacts. By examining these responses over time, land managers can assess intervals until optimal habitat returns to a burned area and create landscape-level management approaches.

Principal Investigator: Michael L Morrison

Agency/Organization: Texas A&M University-College Station

Branch or Dept: Texas AgriLife Research


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Diane M. Gilliland

Texas A&M University-College Station

Texas AgriLife Administrative Services

Budget Contact

Diane M. Gilliland

Texas A&M University-College Station

Texas AgriLife Administrative Services

Co-Principal Investigator

Joseph A. Grzybowski

University of Central Oklahoma

College of Mathematics & Science

Co-Principal Investigator

Heather A. Mathewson

Texas A&M University-College Station

Texas AgriLife Research

Collaborator/Contributor

Bret A. Collier

Texas A&M University-College Station

Texas AgriLife Research

Collaborator/Contributor

Ashley M. Long

Texas A&M University-College Station

Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences

Collaborator/Contributor

Tiffany M. McFarland

Texas A&M University-College Station

Texas AgriLife Research


Project Locations

Consortium

Great Plains


Level

State

Agency

Unit

STATE

OK

FED

Other Federal Lands

STATE

TX

MULTIPLE


Project Deliverables

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

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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