Lizard Microhabitat and Microclimate Relationships in Southeastern Pine-Hardwood Forests Managed With Prescribed Burning and Thinning
Understanding the impacts of disturbances in forest ecosystems is essential for long-term biodiversity conservation. Many studies have evaluated wildlife responses to various disturbances but most generally do not use changes in microclimate features or crohabitat structure to explain these responses. We examined lizard responses to two common forest management practices prescribed burning and thinning) in pine-hardwood forests of the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama, USA. Over 4 years, we captured 719 individual lizards representing seven species. Lizards exhibited species-specific responses to forest management: eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) captures were positively associated with an increasing forest disturbance gradient and were greatest in thin with burn treatments, whereas little brown skink (Scincella lateralis) captures were positively associated with increasing litter depth and were greatest in control sites during the first year posttreatment. Green anole (Anolis carolinensis) captures increased in forest stands with concomitant increases in air temperature, whereas common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) captures were related to coarse woody debris cover during posttreatment sampling. We were unable to detect a treatment response or microhabitat/microclimate associations for broad-headed skinks (Plestiodon laticeps). Through an information-theoretic approach, we were able to identify treatment effects along with changes in microclimate and microhabitat features potentially responsible for driving responses of southeastern lizard species to forest management.