Short-term response to season of burn by amphibians and reptiles in a Florida longleaf pine – wiregrass sandhill
We investigated how herpetofauna respond to burning and burn season in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) sandhills by contrasting preburn species richness, diversity, and evenness and captures of six reptile and six amphibian species to the first(Y+1) or second (Y+2) year after burn or between dormant-season burns (DSB) and growing-season burns (GSB). Responses to burning overall or burn season were inconsistent among species; several showed no response, whereas others responded positively or negatively. Most responses were evident only in Y+1. Reptile species richness, diversity, and evenness responses were not detected. Amphibian richness increased after burning overall; diversity and evenness decreased more in GSB than in DSB in Y+1. Southern toad (Anaxyrus terrestris (Bonnaterre, 1789)) captures increased and Florida crowned snake (Tantilla relicta Telford, 1966) captures decreased following burns overall in Y+1. Ground skink (Scincella lateralis (Say in James, 1823)) captures increased more in DSB than GSB in Y+1. Florida gopher frog (Lithobates capito (LeConte, 1855)) and southeastern five-lined skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus; Taylor, 1932) captures increased, and oak toad (Anaxyrus quercicus (Holbrook, 1840))decreased more in GSB than DSB in Y+2. Responses were likely due to changes in aboveground activity affecting captures or (for amphibians especially) annual variability in captures unrelated to burns. Our results indicated that reptiles and amphibians of sandhills are resilient to short-term effects of burning overall and burn season.