The Effects of Fire on Wildlife

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Abstract Fire is an important part of many ecosystems and helps maintain the condition of habitats for wildlife. The effect of fire depends upon many factors, varying from the type of wildlife to their different habitats. Fire affects ungulates through positive, but often, short-lived improvements in diets by allowing ungulates to consume new plant growth (Hobbs and Spowart 1984). Fire mediates species interactions thereby reducing conflict (Coppock and Detling 1986). Birds are often positively benefited (Bock and Bock 1983) or unaffected by fire (Emlen 1970, Breininger and Smith 1992) in the short-term. The beneficial role of fire on terrestrial ecosystems is contrary to the negative impact of fire on aquatic ecosystems (Bozek and Young 1994). The long term effect of fire on wildlife is the maintenance of forage areas by preventing succession of a habitat to its climax state (Carlson et al. 1993, Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). Introduction Fire is an important part of many ecosystems, affecting wildlife populations in various ways, such as by changing habitat (Schaefer and Pruitt 1991), affecting food supply or quality (Hobbs and Spowart 1984), or by altering interactions of species (Coppock and Detling 1986). Fire suppression has allowed forested areas to achieve a climax state which provides less forage for wildlife (Carlson et al. 1993, Schaefer and Pruitt 1991). While terrestrial wildlife is benefited by fire, aquatic ecosystems are negatively impacted by large fires through the increase in sediment flow (Bozek and Young 1994). Fire is essential in maintaining biological diversity in the Northern Rocky Mountain forests (Hutto 1995). Nutritional Effects Fire affects nutrition of wildlife in the short-term by increasing the quality of their diets (Hobbs and Spowart 1984) or by

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