[SoWestLep] fires

Stanley A. Gorodenski stan_gorodenski at asualumni.org
Mon Oct 27 16:30:18 EST 2003

You have a good point. At the 2001 Lep Soc meeting Craig Rudolph gave a 
talk on the effect of controlled burns on S. diana in Virginia. They 
found that controlled burns resulted in a greater abundance of the 
butterfly. However, Virginia is not a desert habitat. At the same 
meeting Dana Ross gave a talk on the effects of burn experiments in a 
desert habitat. He found, to quote him:
"Average species richness and average species abundance were not 
significantly between control and recovering burn plots while newly burn 
plots (one year post burn) generally did show a decrease in both these 
respects. Fire affected butterfly populatons differently and generally 
paralleled the changes in larval host plant relative abundance. This 
suggests the importance of taxon-specific life history knowledge when 
the management and conservation of butterfly populations is of concern."

Thus, it appears, tentatively, that burns in desert habitats _at_ _best_ 
do not affect species richness and species abundance negatively, but at 
the same time do not affect them positively. This is a general statement 
which may not be true for a specific taxon as I understand the research 

Paul Cherubini wrote:

>My guess is southern Calif. leps suffer more from fire                                 
>suppression.  In college plant ecology classes, one of the
>first things the professors teach students is that virtually the                          
>whole state of California used to burn very roughly every                             
>7-12 years before the arrival of European man. These fires                         
>were mostly started by lightning and would burn for months.                        
>Paul Cherubini
>Placerville, CA
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