Indirect effects of fire on the small mammal community of a tallgrass blackland prairie remnant in Texas.
This study investigated effects of fire on vegetation and small mammals in a tallgrass blackland prairie remnant. At Leonhardt Prairie, vegetation and small mammals were monitored from February 2007 through May 2008 with a burn occurring Fall 2007. Pre-burn, dense litter and vegetative cover accommodated two dominant species, Baiomys taylori and Sigmodon hispidus, with a relative abundance (captures/100 trapnights) of 5.85 and 4.99, respectively. Post-burn, removal of vegetation led to an increase of Peromyscus maniculatus from a relative abundance of 0.12 pre-burn to 5.23 post-burn. Baiomys taylori and Sigmodon hispidus were not captured on burned sections for 7 months, though the unburned section maintained capture rates similar to pre-burn data. Shift in species composition has occurred from Baiomys taylori and Sigmodon hispidus to Peromyscus maniculatus, suggesting short-term fire response of small mammals in tallgrass prairies. This secondary successional cycle of 7 months suggests the prairie’s natural fire frequency was high.