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Chaparral: Carnivores

Post fire fox, photo by P. Schuette

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.

Methods

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.