Unburned islands support wildlife


Fire is an important component in many ecosystems and has an increasing impact on wildlife due to global environmental change and anthropogenic activities. We studied the post-fire population responses of the greater sage-grouse, a large ground-living bird that inhabits the fire-prone sagebrush ecosystems of North America, and found that the greater sage-grouse populations were negatively affected by fire events, but that unburned islands showed stable or increasing population trends for this species. This suggests that unburned islands act as fire refugia by providing habitat in which species can survive and recolonize burned areas. The publication is available here, and a public news item here.