Fire is a major disturbance that affects ecological communities, and when fire events increase in frequency or extent, they may jeopardise biodiversity. Although long-term studies are irreplaceable to understand how biological communities respond to wildfires, a rapid, efficient assessment of the consequences of wildfire is paramount to inform habitat management and restoration. Although Species Distribution Models (SDMs) may be applied to achieve this goal, they have not yet been used in that way. In summer 2017, during an extended drought that affected Italy, a severe wildfire occurred in the Vesuvius National Park (southern Italy). We applied SDMs to assess how much potential habitat was lost by the 12 bat species occurring in the area because of the wildfire, and whether habitat fragmentation increased following the event. Our analysis supported the hypotheses we tested (i.e. that the fire event potentially affected all species through habitat reduction and fragmentation) and that the bat species potentially most affected were those adapted to foraging in cluttered habitat (forest). We show that SDMs are a valuable tool for a first, rapid assessment of the effects of large-scale wildfires, and that they may help identify the areas that need to be monitored for animal activity and phenology, and to assist in saving human and financial resources.

Loss of potential bat habitat following a severe wildfire: a model-based rapid assessment

Bosso Luciano;Ancillotto Leonardo;Smeraldo Sonia;Migliozzi Antonello;Russo Danilo
2018

Abstract

Fire is a major disturbance that affects ecological communities, and when fire events increase in frequency or extent, they may jeopardise biodiversity. Although long-term studies are irreplaceable to understand how biological communities respond to wildfires, a rapid, efficient assessment of the consequences of wildfire is paramount to inform habitat management and restoration. Although Species Distribution Models (SDMs) may be applied to achieve this goal, they have not yet been used in that way. In summer 2017, during an extended drought that affected Italy, a severe wildfire occurred in the Vesuvius National Park (southern Italy). We applied SDMs to assess how much potential habitat was lost by the 12 bat species occurring in the area because of the wildfire, and whether habitat fragmentation increased following the event. Our analysis supported the hypotheses we tested (i.e. that the fire event potentially affected all species through habitat reduction and fragmentation) and that the bat species potentially most affected were those adapted to foraging in cluttered habitat (forest). We show that SDMs are a valuable tool for a first, rapid assessment of the effects of large-scale wildfires, and that they may help identify the areas that need to be monitored for animal activity and phenology, and to assist in saving human and financial resources.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/724736
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