Short-term effects of fuel reduction treatments on herpetofauna from the southeastern United States
Path analysis of fuel reduction treatments on herpetofauna across four southeastern sites of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study provided quantitative evidence relating changes in vegetation and fuels to herpetofauna response. Fuel reduction treatments included prescribed burning (B), a mechanical treatment (M), mechanical treatment followed by prescribed burning (MB), and an untreated control (C). Treatment effects on herpetofauna response variables were predicted by the direct and indirect effects of stand basal area, coarse woody debris volume, native herb cover, and forest floor depth. Path models were solved for lizard, snake, and reptile response to fuel reduction treatments. Lizard and reptile abundance were higher in B and MB plots than in C and M plots. Increasing native herb cover best predicted lizard and reptile abundance within B and MB plots. Native herb cover, lizard, and reptile abundance were highest in B and MB plots, and each of these response variables responded positively to B and MB.