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Accueil du site → Master → Afrique du Sud → 2020 → Shrub and bird community response to fire in dune thicket of the southeastern Cape, South Africa

Nelson Mandela University (2020)

Shrub and bird community response to fire in dune thicket of the southeastern Cape, South Africa

Strydom, Tiaan

Titre : Shrub and bird community response to fire in dune thicket of the southeastern Cape, South Africa

Auteur : Strydom, Tiaan

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2020

Résumé partiel
Fire studies within the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) are restricted to the impacts of fire on plants and birds in fire-prone fynbos while little is known about post-fire responses of shrubs and birds in fire-avoiding subtropical dune thicket, which coexists with fynbos but burns on much longer cycles. Fire is deemed important for maintaining the boundaries between fynbos and thicket. It has been hypothesised that high-intensity fires prevent fire-dependent fynbos from being replaced by fireavoiding subtropical thicket (hereafter thicket) on dune landscapes of the CFR. I posit that (1) fire-related thicket shrub mortality would be size dependent, with smaller individuals suffering higher mortality than larger ones ; and (2) that survival and resprouting vigour of thicket shrubs would be negatively correlated with fire intensity. In relation to the response of birds to fire I posit that (1) fire reduces bird species richness and bird abundance in thicket during the first two years post-fire ; and (2) fire changes feeding guild composition and results in the loss of frugivorous birds. Extensive fires in dune thicket along the southeastern Cape coast presented the opportunity to assess the responses of thicket shrubs and birds to fire. For the thicket shrubs I assessed survival and resprouting vigour of thicket shrubs post-fire in relation to fire intensity and pre-fire shrub size at two dune landscapes (Cape St Francis and Knysna) in the CFR. I furthermore compared bird species richness, bird abundance and feeding guild composition between burnt and unburnt thicket (only at Knysna). A total of 29 species and 1112 individuals of thicket shrub were surveyed, with post-fire survival being high (83-85%). Smaller shrubs had a lower probability of post-fire survival than larger individuals but there was no consistent relationship between shrub mortality and fire intensity. Fire intensity had a positive effect on resprouting shoot count but a variable effect on resprouting volume. In the bird study a total of 66 bird species and 2404 individuals were recorded of which 52 species and 1176 individuals were in burnt thicket and 60 species and 1228 individuals were in unburnt thicket.

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