Skip to Main Content

The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Importance of in situ survival, recolonization, and habitat gaps in the postfire recovery of fire-sensitive prairie insect species
Year: 2003
Author(s): Panzer, R.
Source Title: Natural Areas Journal
Source Type: Journal
pages: 14-21
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Investigated the roles of in situ survival and recolonization in the postfire recovery of fire-sensitive insect species within isolated tallgrass prairie remnants in Illinois, northwest Indiana, and southeast Wisconsin, USA. I examined the extent to which commonly encountered habitat gaps suppress recovery among several taxa and tested the pivotal assumption that small populations are readily extirpated when their requisite habitats are completely burned. Both in situ survival and recolonization were found to contribute appreciably to postfire recovery within the spatial and temporal scales examined. Combined recovery times for 22 species separated from unburned units by roads or other barriers were not greater than those for populations in burn units abutting unburned tracts. The flightless leafhopper Aflexia rubranura (DeLong) and the sedentary moth Papaipema eryngii Bird readily crossed habitat gaps as large as 36 in and 25 m, respectively. When 6-m gaps were covered with tar paper in the Aflexia experiment, colonization of outlying patches was reduced, but not stopped. I conclude that burn unit designs that provide adjacent or nearby refugia, coupled with procedures that promote patchiness within burned units, can be expected to contribute appreciably to the rapid recovery of fire-sensitive species.