Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (338 KB)

Title: Prescribed fire, snag population dynamics, and avian nest site selection

Author: Bagne, Karen E.; Purcell, Kathryn L.; Rotenberry, John T.;

Date: 2008

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 255: 99-105.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Snags are an important resource for a wide variety of organisms, including cavity-nesting birds. We documented snag attributes in a mixed conifer forest dominated by ponderosa pine in the Sierra Nevada, California where fire is being applied during spring. A total of 328 snags were monitored before and after fire on plots burned once, burned twice, or left unburned to assess the effects of prescribed fire on snag populations. The greatest loss of snags (7.1 snags ha-1 or 43%) followed the first introduction of fire after a long fire-free period. On plots burned a second time 21% of snags (3.6 snags ha-1) were lost, whereas 8% (1.4 snags ha-1) were lost on unburned control plots in the same time period. New snags replaced many of those lost reducing the net snag losses to 12% (2.0 ha-1) for plots burned once, and 3% (0.5 ha) for plots burned twice and unburned plots. We also examined snags used by cavity-nesting birds. Snags preferred for nesting were generally ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), larger diameter, and moderately decayed as compared to available snags. For monitored snags that met the preferred criteria, there was a net loss (1.7 snag ha-1 or 34%) after the first burn, while the loss of useable snags was less than 1 snag ha-1 following the second burn (15%) or on unburned controls (8%). We recommend protection of preferred snags, in particular large ponderosa pines, especially during primary fire applications on fire-suppressed landscapes.

Keywords: habitat selection, prescribed fire, breeding biology, Sierra Nevada, snags, cavity-nesting birds

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Bagne, Karen E.; Purcell, Kathryn L.; Rotenberry, John T. 2008. Prescribed fire, snag population dynamics, and avian nest site selection. Forest Ecology and Management. 255: 99-105


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.