EFFECTS OF WILDFIRE ON THE STRUCTURE OF CARNIVORE COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.
Erin E. Morrison; Oregon State University; 1236 Eagle Way, Virginia Beach, VA, 23456; (757) 469-9626; e.morrison430@gmail.com; Taylor R. Peltier, David S. Green, Sean M. Matthews, Roger A. Powell
Wildfires are a habitat-altering ecological disturbance that can affect carnivore populations. The frequency and intensity of wildfires in the western United States have increased in recent years and it is critical to understand these effects. To investigate how wildfires may affect carnivore communities, we implemented a pilot trail camera project in areas burned by a wildfire in 2014 on the Klamath National Forest in northern California. In 2017, we deployed seven cameras in burned areas and eight cameras in non-burned habitat that had similar elevation and canopy cover to the pre-fire condition of burned areas. We hypothesized that occupancy rates of generalists and specialists are influenced by habitat availability, interspecific competitive interactions, and prey availability. Using single-season occupancy models, our results indicate that generalist species, such as grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and coyote (Canis latrans), occurred at higher occupancy rates in burned areas compared to unburned areas, while forest-obligate species, such as fisher (Pekania pennanti), occurred at lower occupancy rates in burned areas compared to unburned areas. Further monitoring will be needed to determine if the increase in occupancy of generalists in burned areas may have negative effects on sensitive species being able to return to these areas.
Poster Session