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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, August 8, 2014

The chaparral shrublands of southern California(Los Angeles and San Diego), and similar sagebrush ecosystems in the Great Basin, are not adapted to the kind of frequent fire typical of the mountain conifer forests in northern California........... Fires in the lower elevation chaparral ecosystems are always crown fires, which kill most of the vegetation............... In the millennia before humans arrived, these ecosystems burned at intervals of 100 to 130 years............Over the past 100 years, dryer temperatures and soaring human populations(people setting fires purposely or accidently) have this ecosystem burning every 20 years............. This high frequency of fire has instigated a persistent switch from chaparral to grass in some areas.................. Frequent fire favors quick germination and spread of forbs and grasses............... Most grasslands in California are not native and thus there are adverse inpacts on native animals up and down the food chain...........Bobcat occurrence is most strongly influenced by avoidance of urbanization and time since fire, suggesting they may be the best indicator of landscape condition for the carnivore guild that exists in this part of the world.................The 10 or so remaining Pumas ins SoCal not only are bottlenecked in to a finite living space by an "erector set" Freeway system but research also suggests that the landscape-scale effects of this ever increasing and intensive fire regime may also negatively affect their ability to persist into the future.................

Landscape dynamics in Southern California : understanding mammalian carnivore response to fire and human development

Jennings, Megan Kathleen
Date: 2013-02-25


In southern California, many studies have focused on the effects of urbanization and landscape fragmentation on mammalian carnivores. However, fragmentation is not the only landscape-level change that occurs from human development, which has also been linked to shifts in natural disturbance processes, such as wildfire. I use three robust, long-term datasets, including data from remote camera and telemetry studies, to examine mammalian carnivore response to wildfire and increasing fire frequency in southern California

coyote traversing burnt chaparral

My analysis of 14 years of compiled remote camera data indicated that, of the seven mammalian carnivores evaluated, bobcat occurrence was most strongly influenced by avoidance of urbanization and time since fire, suggesting they may be the best indicator of landscape condition for the carnivore guild.

Gray fox and puma may be most sensitive to future type conversion, while the mesopredators more tolerant of urbanization (e.g. striped skunk, raccoon, and opossum), may benefit from increases in grassland habitat.

 Analyses of a 10 year dataset of >40 collared pumas showed that, although the relationship between pumas and the landscape was complex, they are able to utilize burned habitats, and post-fire conditions provide habitat for pumas at the individual- and population-level. While puma habitat use responded positively to time since fire, I found a negative relationship between pumas and high fire frequency, suggesting the landscape-scale effects of the changing fire regime may negatively affect puma populations in southern California.

 Finally, using long-term telemetry data from bobcats and coyotes to assess connectivity in an urbanizing and fire-prone landscape, I found that without representing the constrained nature of the habitat, landscape characterizations with regard to urbanization and burned habitat may be inaccurate, especially for bobcats. In particular, landscape connectivity for bobcats was reduced substantially when fire-return interval departure was incorporated in my models. 

The results of these three analyses indicate that it is critical that the shifting disturbance dynamics of wildfire be considered in conservation planning and connectivity assessments in southern California to establish more comprehensive plans that adequately protect landscape integrity and connectivity for mammalian carnivores and other sympatric species..


sandro giacomangeli said...

Interesting article, especially with regards to the fire's reoccurring more frequently threw human interruption.
I had no idea that fires are a natural part of the ecosystem.

Great article, thank you!

Rick Meril said...

Sandro,,,,,,,,glad you enjoyed...........firm is a natural part of many natural systems, even in the northeastern and great lakes regions of the usa where 40 plus inches of rain occur naturally.............longer intervals betweeen natural fires, but nonetheless they have historically for eons, refreshing and reshaping the landscape