, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 187-196
Date: 31 Oct 2003

Local survival after fire in Mediterranean shrublands: combining capture-recapture data over several bird species

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Post-disturbance survival is a key factor in the onset of secondary successions. Here we analyse capture-recapture data from two before/after disturbance studies to estimate the effect of fire on local bird survival. Analyses of six bird species at two Mediterranean shrubland sites were combined using a meta-analysis approach. Two warblers, Sylvia undata and S. melanocephala, were studied at one site altered by prescribed burning, and five passerines (Luscinia megarhynchos, Turdus merula, Parus major, P. caeruleus and S. melanocephala) at one site disturbed by wildfire. Based on the combined analysis, annual survival probability significantly decreased from 0.49 to 0.18 (i.e. a 64% decline) after the fire. Our results further suggest a trend for a higher decrease in annual survival associated with wildfire (−72%, from 0.51 to 0.14) than with prescribed burning (−35%, from 0.41 to 0.27), although this should be properly tested with a specific experimental design. In S. undata, a decline in survival in the ‘long-term’ cannot account for the drop in density observed the first spring after fire. We suggest that a decrease in recruitment rate and an increase in the proportion of non-breeders immediately after the fire may contribute more strongly to the decline in the breeding population. Our results tend to support the idea that bird populations may respond to moderate disturbances with noticeable time lags, because of individual site tenacity.