Wpływ pożaru na populacje drobnych ssaków zamieszkujących tereny otwarte – przegląd literatury

Effect of fire on small mammals in open ecosystems – a systematic review


  • Zbigniew Borowski Instytut Badawczy Leśnictwa Zakład Łowiectwa ul. Bitwy Warszawskiej 1920 r. nr 3 00-973 Warszawa
    e-mail: Z.Borowski@ibles.waw.pl


Fire is a natural disturbance that influences global ecosystem structure and function. It is also widely used as a management tool to achieve conservation goals. Wildfires can have highly destructive effects on habitats and their biota. Non-volant animals, such as small mammals, are among the most vulnerable to fire. However, little is known about the reaction of these animals to fire events in fast-regenerated habitats. That is why a systematic literature review was conducted to analyse and evaluate the impact of fire on this taxonomic group in open habitats. Most studies were carried out in the New World (Australia, North and South America) in a fire-prone habitat. The majority of them (74%) were focused on forests, and only a quarter (26%) were conducted in habitats covered by herbaceous vegetation. These 15 articles provided the basis for analysing the response of small mammals living in open areas to fire disturbance. Surprisingly, in most of the work analysed, the impact of the fire was short-lasting(less than one year), and the regeneration of the small mammal communities was related to the rate of regeneration of the vegetation cover and habitat structure. A crucial factor was the fire’s structure, which was related to its intensity; the highest diversity of small mammals was associated with low-intensity fires, which allowed the unburned patches of habitat to remain after the fire (so-called micro-refuges). Small mammals can survive the fire events in the shelters such as burrows, in habitats like pastures, prairies, and meadows. This systematic review demonstrates that there is a continued focus almost exclusively on fire-prone habitats, whereas due to global change, fire disturbances will be more common and severe in „fire naive” ecosystems in boreal and temperate zones. Significant gaps were identified in understanding the small mammal recovering ecology in open habitats after wildfire. Future research should focus on how individual traits of small mammals affect their settling success in burnt habitats.

DOI 10.48538/lpb-2023-0008
Source Leśne Prace Badawcze (Forest Research Papers), 2023, Vol. 83: 77–86.
Print ISSN 1732-9442
Online ISSN
Type of article
Review article
Original title
Wpływ pożaru na populacje drobnych ssaków zamieszkujących tereny otwarte – przegląd literatury
Publisher Instytut Badawczy Leśnictwa, Sękocin Stary, Poland
Date March, 2024
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