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      The role of fire disturbance on habitat structure and bird communities in South Brazilian Highland Grasslands

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          Abstract

          Grassland ecosystems are evolutionarily linked to disturbances such as grazing and fire. These disturbances define grassland plant communities and habitat heterogeneity, which influence animal communities. We evaluated the influence of fire disturbance on plant and bird communities and on habitat structure by sampling grassland fragments with different time elapsed since the last fire event. Habitat structure was sampled using plant life forms and abiotic variables and birds were sampled through point counts. We recorded 862 bird individuals from 70 species. Intermediately-burnt sites harbor higher habitat heterogeneity and plant species richness in comparison with recently or long-burnt sites. Bird abundance and taxonomic diversity decreased linearly as time since fire increased. Finally, time since fire influenced the relative distribution of plant life forms and bird food guilds. Our results indicate that fire management should be included in the framework for conservation and sustainable use of grasslands, because it promotes habitat heterogeneity and diversity. To maintain habitat heterogeneity and the related habitat-specific bird species and functional groups, conservation efforts should maintain grassland patches under different management intensities and frequencies on a landscape level. However, studies focused on determining the periodicity with which fire management should be used are still lacking.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                mariana.beal@edu.pucrs.br
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                12 November 2020
                12 November 2020
                2020
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.412519.a, ISNI 0000 0001 2166 9094, Laboratório de Ecologia de Interações, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Evolução da Biodiversidade, , Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, ; building 12, block C, room 111, Ipiranga Avenue 6681, Porto Alegre, RS 90619-900 Brazil
                [2 ]GRID grid.412519.a, ISNI 0000 0001 2166 9094, Laboratório de Ornitologia, Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Evolução da Biodiversidade, , Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, ; building 40, room 112, Ipiranga Avenue 6681, Porto Alegre, RS 90619-900 Brazil
                Article
                76758
                10.1038/s41598-020-76758-z
                7665042
                33184441
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100003593, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico;
                Award ID: 402083/2016-4 and 309438/2016-0
                Award ID: 402083/2016-4 and 309438/2016-0
                Award ID: 402083/2016-4 and 309438/2016-0
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Uncategorized

                community ecology, plant ecology, zoology

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