Coarse outcomes of prescribed fires are well-understood, but fine scale impacts on many assemblages are still unknown. When fire approaches, animals escape to unburned areas, hide in place, or are killed by fire. Treefrogs are unique in their use of trees for most of their adult nonbreeding activities. This reliance on uplands and three-dimensional landscape composition makes them a great model to study prescribed fire impacts. We focused analyses on an upland flatwoods specialist comprising 99% of our captures, the pinewoods treefrog Dryophytes femoralis. We assessed this species' responses to prescribed fire using two separate before-after-control-impact replicated field experiments in a Central Florida pine flatwoods landscape. In Study I, we assessed fire impacts on population and movement in canopies over six months (N = 76 frogs, 198 recaptures). We used single rope technique and climbing equipment to set PVC pipes as treefrog refugia at 3 m, 6 m, 9 m, and 9+ m in twelve longleaf pines, Pinus palustris, across four plots, two of which had fires scheduled during the study. Study II evaluated frog population changes in uplands in response to prescribed fires (N = 1804 frogs, 1790 recaptures). We collected 27 months of mark-recapture data by checking 240 open PVC pipes at 2 m in longleaf pines across eight plots with fires prescribed during the study. Using mark-recapture and mixed generalized linear models with Bayesian framework, we modeled abundance, survival, recapture, and vertical movement parameters. We found the prevailing mechanism for resiliency to fire for pinewoods treefrogs was refugia up pines, then recolonization of lower layers when they regreen post-fire. This finding substantiates others' conclusions that structural integrity of the community is key to sustaining native biodiversity. Future work and management should increase consideration of the three-dimensional structure of the habitat when developing burn prescriptions and study designs.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Integrative Conservation Biology; Integrative Biology Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Biazzo, Ian, "Responses of a Pine Flatwoods Specialist Treefrog to Prescribed Fire" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1515.
Restricted to the UCF community until May 2024; it will then be open access.