[SoWestLep] fires

patrick foley patfoley at csus.edu
Mon Oct 27 16:22:44 EST 2003

Stan, Paul and other lepsters,

The Clifornia habitat that is burning is chapparal (Mediterranean scrub) 
and woodland I imagine. Not one of our three California deserts 
(Sonoran, Mohave and Great Basin). Deserts don't have enough fuel load 
and continuous cover.

The natural fire frequency varies enormously across Californian plant 
communities. And of course there are many plant adaptations to fire, 
including thick bark, stump sprouting, closed cone pines etc. Animal 
adaptations to fire need more study. But part of the reason diapause 
often occurs in the soil, rather than on host plants is relevant, since, 
at least under the ancient fire regime, most fires were probably 
frequent and not too hot at the soil level.

Although I am in Northern California, today seems very shaky. The news 
is not good from anywhere.

patfoley at csus.edu

Stanley A. Gorodenski wrote:

> 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 
> results.
> Stan
> 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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