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Juvenile survival of a burned forest specialist in response to variation in fire characteristics

Cite this dataset

Stillman, Andrew et al. (2021). Juvenile survival of a burned forest specialist in response to variation in fire characteristics [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Pyrodiversity, defined as variation in fire history and characteristics, has been shown to catalyze post-fire biodiversity in a variety of systems. However, the demographic and behavioral mechanisms driving the responses of individual species to pyrodiversity remain largely unexplored.

2. We used a model post-fire specialist, the black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), to examine the relationship between fire characteristics and juvenile survival while controlling for confounding factors.

3. We radio-tracked fledgling black-backed woodpeckers in burned forests of California and Washington, USA, and derived information on habitat characteristics using ground surveys and satellite data. We used hierarchical Bayesian mixed-effects models to determine the factors that influence both fledgling and annual juvenile survival, and we tested for effects of fledgling age on movement rates.

4. Burn severity strongly affected fledgling survival, with lower survival in patches created by high-severity fire compared to patches burned at medium to low severity or left unburned. Time since leaving the nest was also a strong predictor of fledgling survival, annual juvenile survival, and fledgling movement rates.

5. Our results support the role of habitat complementation in generating species-specific benefits from variation in spatial fire characteristics – one axis of pyrodiversity – and highlight the importance of this variation under shifting fire regimes. High-severity fire provides foraging and nesting sites that support the needs of adult black-backed woodpeckers, but fledgling survival is greater in areas burned at lower severity. By linking breeding and foraging habitat with neighboring areas of reduced predation risk, pyrodiversity may enhance the survival and persistence of animals that thrive in post-fire habitat. 

Usage notes

This data package includes several components:

(1) Text files of JAGS model code.

(2) .RData files with input data to run models.

(3) Two .csv files with data on woodpecker movement rates and interval-formatted survival data.

(4) A README file with definitions of variables.