San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Herpetology Department]

Birds and Mammals
Post-fire Studies

 -Species Tables
 -Species Graphs
 -Species Groupings
 -Census Routes
     Pines Fire Table
     Pines Fire Map
     Cuyamaca Map
     Cedar Fire Table
     Cedar Fire Map

 -Coastal Sage      Rodents

Field Guide

Phil Unitt
fax: 619.232.0248



Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) photographed by a motion-sensing camera
Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) photographed by a motion-sensing camera.

Large mammals typically range widely over diverse habitats. Small fires, therefore, may displace animals from particular foraging locations, burrows, or dens but will not cause wholesale shifts in home ranges. But the Cedar Fire was so vast it may have completely displaced individuals whose entire territory or home range was burned, if the animal survived at all. We are examining whether some large mammals were totally eliminated from burned areas. We are also examining the extent to which these animals favor locations along the fire’s edge until the larger burned area recovers to a suitable condition. That is, we expect the diversity and abundance of larger mammals to be higher at the edges of the burned area than in its the interior, with this gradient disappearing through time.


Map: Locations of carnivore-study plots.
Locations of carnivore-study plots.

Our sampling focuses on the coyote (Canis latrans), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and bobcat (Lynx rufus). We sample three times per year (in fall, winter, and spring) at 32 sites: 10 in the burned area’s interior (>4 km from the perimeter), 11 near the burned area’s edge (<3 km from the perimeter), and 11 in unburned chaparral. Each site of sampling includes one motion-sensing Game-Vu camera and two plots of powdered gypsum (for registering tracks), each baited with a scent lure. Each sampling period lasts for eight consecutive nights.

Paul Schuette setting up a baited track station. Baited camera station. Bobcat (Lynx rufus) visiting a baited camera station.

Photos: P Schuette

We are currently analyzing the data. Results will follow soon.