The Effects of Prescribed Burning and Thinning on Herpetofauna and Small Mammals in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina: Preliminary Results of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate StudyThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Due to heavy fuel loads resulting from years of fire suppression, upland pine and mixed pine hardwood forests in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina are at risk of severe wildfire. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (NFFS) was conducted on the Clemson Experimental Forest to study the effects of prescribed burning and thinning on a multitude of factors, including herpetofauna and small mammals. Drift fence/pitfall arrays, modified pitfalls, unmodified pitfalls, and hand captures were used to sample herpetofauna. We captured 1,317 reptiles and amphibians representing 40 species from September 9, 2000 to January 9, 2002. There were no significant treatment effects on abundance within five major taxa (frogs/toads, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and snakes). However, there were treatment effects on two lizard species. When comparing richness, the thin treatment had a significantly higher number of snake species than the burn treatment. Live traps, snap traps, and herpetofauna traps were used to sample small mammals. No small mammals were caught in live traps for 9,600 trap nights. Snap trap success was 0.10 percent for 27,000 trap nights. Small mammals were captured at low levels in herpetofuana traps (0.06 percent trap success) for 163,968 trap nights. Treatment effects could not be determined for small mammals due to the low number of captures. Although treatment effects were limited, prescribed burning and thinning have been found to alter herpetofauna and small mammal communities.