Effect of High-Intensity Wildfire and Silvicultural Treatments on Reptile Communities in Sand-Pine Scrub
We tested whether the herpetofuunal response to clearcutting followed by site preparation was similar to high-intensity wildfire foIlowed by salvage logging in sand- pine scrub. Herpetofaunal communities were compared in three replicated 5- to 7-yearpost-disturbance treatments and mature sand-pine forest. The three disturbance treatments were (1) high-intensity wildfire, salvage-logging, and natural regeneration; (2) clearcutting, roller-chopping, and broadcast-seeding; and (3) clearcutting and brucke-seeding. Animals were trapped over a 14-month period using pitfall traps with drift fences. Microhabitat features were measured along line transects. Because amphibiafz (frog) occurrence appeared to be unaffected by treatment, this paper focuses only on reptile communities. Six species of lizards and one snake species were numerically dominant. Reptile species richness, diversity, and evenness did not differ among treatments or mature forest. Species composition differed markedly, however, between mature forest and disturbance treatments. Typical open scrub species such as Cnemidophorus sexlineatus, Sceloporus woodi, and Eumeces egregius, were dominant in high-intensity burn, roller-chopped, and bracke-seeded stands but scarce in mature forest and they were positively correlated with bare sand and other microhabitat features typical of open scrub. Conversely, Eumeces inexpectatus was most abundant in mature forest and was correlated with ground litter and other features typical of mature forest. With respect to the species sampled, especially the lizards (including endemic species) of open scrub, clearcutting appeared to mimic high-intensity wildfire followed by salvage-logging by creating microhabitat features such as bare sand In a mirror image of the usual concept, forest maturation historically served as the fragmenting agent of an extensive open-scrub landscape matrix that was maintained by high-intensity wildfire. Hence, the patchwork of age classes created by current clearcuttingpatterns could serve as a barrier to lizard dispersal and impede metapopulation dynamics. The absence of a true control (unsalvaged burns) suggests caution in interpreting the results of this study.