Effects of wildfire on endemic breeding birds in a Pinus canariensis forest of Tenerife, Canary Islands
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Fire is a key ecological force in pine forests worldwide, and faunal responses to this disturbance have been a major topic of ecology, yet little is known for oceanic island environments. Using line transects we surveyed the bird community of a natural Pinus canariensis forest burned in the summer of 2007 on Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Our goal was to identify important environmental variables and the thresholds that influenced the pattern of bird abundance at the community, foraging guild, and species-specific level. Models were constructed by means of regression trees and cross validation applying the 1-SE rule. Mixed results were observed and only 2 species were clearly affected by fire severity. Overall, total bird abundance, total species richness, and total bird diversity were positively influenced by low, very low, and moderate canopy fire severity, respectively, and the presence of either Erica or Myrica shrubs. Consequently, high canopy fire severity had an overall negative effect on bird community characteristics. Abundance of Myrica shrubs affected positively general ground foragers such as common blackbird (Turdus merula cabrerae) and Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis), a canopy forager. The number of thin trees was important for canopy foragers such as goldcrest (Regulus regulus teneriffae) and African blue tit (Cyanistes teneriffae teneriffae), but also for a bark forager, the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major canariensis). European robin (Erithacus rubecula superbus) and the ubiquitous endemic blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea teydea) were influenced by low and moderate canopy fire severity, respectively. We recommend that land managers incorporate these results into future post-fire management plans. Priority post-fire actions should be directed toward the protection and conservation of the endemic blue chaffinch, a species of conservation concern on the nearby island of Gran Canaria.