Whither wildlife without fire?
Fire is a major ecosystem process that has been pervasive across the southern forest landscape on an evolutionary time scale. Wildlife evolved in response to frequent lightning-ignited burns that shaped the biota of the Southeast. Despite the dominant role that fire has played on an evolutionary scale, the use of prescribed fire as a forest wildlife management tool remains limited, and must be expanded. In this paper, the objective is to use case histories from the scientific literature, along with previously unpublished data, to describe why use of prescribed fire is critical for the effective management of numerous wildlife species in southern forests. In the authors’ view, some of the major wildlife management "problems" (i.e., many endangered and/or declining species) in the Southern U.S. are rooted in habitat loss resulting from a lack of adequate (either sufficiently frequent and/or widespread) applications of prescribed fire.