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      The potential importance of unburned islands as refugia for the persistence of wildlife species in fire‐prone ecosystems

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          Abstract

          1. The persistence of wildlife species in fire‐prone ecosystems is under increasing pressure from global change, including alterations in fire regimes caused by climate change. However, unburned islands might act to mitigate negative effects of fire on wildlife populations by providing habitat in which species can survive and recolonize burned areas. Nevertheless, the characteristics of unburned islands and their role as potential refugia for the postfire population dynamics of wildlife species remain poorly understood.

          2. We used a newly developed unburned island database of the northwestern United States from 1984 to 2014 to assess the postfire response of the greater sage‐grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus), a large gallinaceous bird inhabiting the sagebrush ecosystems of North America, in which wildfires are common. Specifically, we tested whether prefire and postfire male attendance trends at mating locations (leks) differed between burned and unburned areas, and to what extent postfire habitat composition at multiple scales could explain such trends.

          3. Using time‐series of male counts at leks together with spatially explicit fire history information, we modeled whether male attendance was negatively affected by fire events. Results revealed that burned leks often exhibit sustained decline in male attendance, whereas leks within unburned islands or >1.5 km away from fire perimeters tend to show stable or increasing trends.

          4. Analyses of postfire habitat composition further revealed that sagebrush vegetation height within 0.8 km around leks, as well elevation within 0.8 km, 6.4 km, and 18 km around leks, had a positive effect on male attendance trends. Moreover, the proportion of the landscape with cheatgrass ( Bromus tectorum) cover >8% had negative effects on male attendance trends within 0.8 km, 6.4 km, and 18 km of leks, respectively.

          5. Synthesis and applications. Our results indicate that maintaining areas of unburned vegetation within and outside fire perimeters may be crucial for sustaining sage‐grouse populations following wildfire. The role of unburned islands as fire refugia requires more attention in wildlife management and conservation planning because their creation, protection, and maintenance may positively affect wildlife population dynamics in fire‐prone ecosystems.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Synergies among extinction drivers under global change.

          If habitat destruction or overexploitation of populations is severe, species loss can occur directly and abruptly. Yet the final descent to extinction is often driven by synergistic processes (amplifying feedbacks) that can be disconnected from the original cause of decline. We review recent observational, experimental and meta-analytic work which together show that owing to interacting and self-reinforcing processes, estimates of extinction risk for most species are more severe than previously recognised. As such, conservation actions which only target single-threat drivers risk being inadequate because of the cascading effects caused by unmanaged synergies. Future work should focus on how climate change will interact with and accelerate ongoing threats to biodiversity, such as habitat degradation, overexploitation and invasive species.
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            Avian Nest Dispersion and Fledging Success in Field-Forest Ecotones

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              When Good Animals Love Bad Habitats: Ecological Traps and the Conservation of Animal Populations

               JAMES BATTIN (2004)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                jaspersteenvoorden@hotmail.com
                Journal
                Ecol Evol
                Ecol Evol
                10.1002/(ISSN)2045-7758
                ECE3
                Ecology and Evolution
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                2045-7758
                04 July 2019
                August 2019
                : 9
                : 15 ( doiID: 10.1002/ece3.2019.9.issue-15 )
                : 8800-8812
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) University of Amsterdam Amsterdam The Netherlands
                [ 2 ] Department of Natural Resources and Society University of Idaho Moscow ID USA
                [ 3 ] Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Hines OR USA
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence

                Jasper Steenvoorden, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 94240, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

                Email: jaspersteenvoorden@ 123456hotmail.com

                Article
                ECE35432
                10.1002/ece3.5432
                6686341
                © 2019 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 2, Pages: 13, Words: 10124
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Joint Fire Science Program
                Award ID: L16AC00202
                Funded by: University of Amsterdam
                Categories
                Original Research
                Original Research
                Custom metadata
                2.0
                ece35432
                August 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.6.7 mode:remove_FC converted:08.08.2019

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