Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 46:11–20; 2014
The southern Great Plains and the northern part of the Texas Panhandle have received less attention from a biological perspective than other parts of the state. Although there is substantial information on the effects of fire on small mammals in the tallgrass and mixed-grass prairies, there is a lack of understanding of fire influences in the shortgrass prairie, specifically on small mammals. We conducted our study on the Cross Bar Cooperative Management Area (CMA), a 4,856 ha shortgrass prairie within the Texas panhandle. Our objective was to determine the effect of three different fire return frequencies and precipitation on diversity of the small mammal community. We sampled small mammals at Cross Bar CMA from 2004–2009 using a randomized block design that consisted of three blocks and nine separate plots. Plots were exposed to two fire treatments during the growing season; 2-year fire return, 4-year fire return, and 10-year non-burned control. We captured 835 individuals of 15 species of small mammals during 17,010 trap nights. Abundance and biomass of all small mammal species was positively related to the amount of precipitation recorded during the previous dormant season regardless of burning treatments. However, some species appeared to positively respond to burn treatment during the years of highest precipitation.