Does post‑fire salvage logging affect foraging activity by rodents?
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Departament de Ciències Ambientals

Does post‑fire salvage logging affect foraging activity by rodents?

New paper out on the effect of post-fire logging on the activity by rodents, published at the European Journal of Forest Research

Following wildfires, salvage logging is applied for silvicultural, safety or even aesthetic reasons. Such operations impact on biological legacies, impair natural vegetation recovery and may affect several animal species that depend on vegeta-tion structure and specific plant resources. Rodents, such as wood and Algerian mice, use vegetation cover as protection against predators and are important prey, moderately effective seed dispersers and efficient seed predators. Different post-fire management strategies may either promote rodent abundance, enhancing their key biological roles, or result in low rodent abundance, creating a low seed predation window of opportunity when assisted regeneration of burnt forests is required. In order to evaluate the effects of post-fire salvage logging on plant-animal interactions, we compared plant regeneration, the availability of trophic resources (seeds and fleshy fruits), rodent foraging activity and rodent relative abundance between unlogged and logged burnt pine forests in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula at different distances (up to 700m) from the burnt area perimeter. The results show that vegetation recovered more slowly in salvage logged than in unlogged areas. For-aging activity of rodents increased both with the volume of woody debris, mainly derived from salvage logging, and with increasing foliage cover. Management strategies aimed at promoting the presence of rodents and associated biodiversity can, however, hamper assisted regeneration by seed sowing

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