Connor M Wood; Cornell Lab of Ornithology;; Jacob Socolar, Stefan Kahl, Phil Chaon, Kevin Kelly, M. Zach Peery, Holger Klinck

Megafires are increasingly common in Sierra Nevada forests, yet their impact on wildlife has been systematically studied for relatively few species. Both biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration will benefit from an expanded understanding of the implications of such disturbances for ecological communities. In fall 2020, the North Complex Fire burned 129,000 ha in the Plumas National Forest, almost all of which lay within a long-term, landscape-scale passive acoustic monitoring program. This enabled us to conduct a Before-After Control-Impact study design to test for changes to avian species richness and composition resulting from the fire. We are combining systematic passive acoustic survey data recorded in May – June 2020 and 2021, the BirdNET algorithm, which can identify >95% of Sierra Nevada birds by sound, and a dynamic occupancy model that accounts for false positives and detection counts. Individually, these components are novel tools in applied ecology; together, we expect them to yield unprecedented insights into community-level population responses to emerging disturbance regimes. These results, which will entail 60-120 species depending on classification accuracy, will be relevant across the Sierra Nevada – particularly because acoustic survey coverage now extends across the entire region.

Wildfire and Disturbance Response  InPerson Presentation