Fire management and the nesting of Athene cunicularia (Aves, Strigidae) in grasslands in central Cerrado, Brazil
Keywords:firebreak, landscape, burrowing owl, reproduction, savanna
AbstractFire management is a common practice in several reserves in the Cerrado, but its influences on bird reproduction remain unknown. In addition, the nesting biology of the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) has been studied in numerous environments, but not in tropical grasslands managed by fire. This study examined the effects of fire management on the nesting biology of A. cunicularia in Emas National Park, State of Goias, central Brazilian Cerrado. We compared the number of breeding pairs and their burrows in October and November 2009 at 15 study sites in grasslands managed by fire (firebreaks) and unmanaged grasslands adjacent to and distant from firebreaks. We visited active burrows two-four times and described the burrow entrances and sentinel sites and counted and observed adults and young. A total of 19 burrows were found at firebreaks. One and two burrows were found in grasslands adjacent to and distant from firebreaks, respectively. For all burrows found, one to three young reached the adult size, being able to fly and/or run in early November. The 22 burrows found were in the ground, associated or not with termite and ant nests. Most (86.4%) burrows had only one entrance. Only three burrows had two or three entrances. Structures used as sentinel perches by adults were mounds in front of the burrow entrances, termite nests, shrubs and trees. Most of these sentinel sites were shorter than 2 m high and located less than 10 m from the burrow entrance. At Emas National Park, firebreaks appear to provide more attractive conditions to the nesting of A. cunicularia than unmanaged grasslands, likely because of the short herbaceous stratum due to frequent burning of firebreaks. This study suggests that fire management provides suitable conditions for the successful reproduction of A. cunicularia in firebreaks at Emas National Park.
How to Cite
Tubelis, D. P., & Delitti, W. B. C. (2010). Fire management and the nesting of Athene cunicularia (Aves, Strigidae) in grasslands in central Cerrado, Brazil. Biota Neotropica, 10(2). Retrieved from //www.biotaneotropica.org.br/BN/article/view/682