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Short-term effects of prescribed fire on lizards in mesquite-Ashe juniper vegetation in central Texas

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Prescribed fire is a common land management tool used to reduce undesirable shrubs, improve forage quality, and enhance wildlife habitat for game species. However, it also has impacts on nongame species. We examined whether a prescribed fire would affect the abundance of lizards and invertebrates in central Texas. In February 2004, four sites were treated with low-intensity prescribed fires; four adjacent non-burned sites served as controls. Vegetation structure (litter depth, percent canopy cover, visual obstruction) and foliar cover were recorded prior to and seasonally following the burn. Lizards and potential invertebrate prey were collected from all plots between March and August 2004 (152 traps, 5908 trap nights). Lizard numbers were not significantly (P > 0.312) affected by the fire, nor were their potential prey or habitat greatly affected. Burning reduced numbers of Homoptera (P < 0.031), and Diptera were more abundant in burned plots in May (P < 0.002), but no other effects were detected (P <0.05 for all other taxa). Burning did not affect vegetation structure (P > 0.25 for all measures); however, foliar cover of Texas wintergrass was lower in burned plots in March but recovered to non-burned levels by May. Our results suggest that small-scale, low-intensity fires have minimal impact on central Texas lizards, the vegetation structure of their habitat, or the invertebrates of their diet.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA; 2: Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA;, Email:


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