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Fire and forage quality: Postfire regrowth quality and pyric herbivory in subtropical grasslands of Nepal

Thapa, Shyam Kumar and de Jong, Joost F. and Hof, Anouschka and Subedi, Naresh and Joshi, Laxmi Raj and Prins, Herbert H. T. (2022). Fire and forage quality: Postfire regrowth quality and pyric herbivory in subtropical grasslands of Nepal. Ecology and Evolution. 12 :4 , e8794
[Research article]

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Abstract

Fire is rampant throughout subtropical South and Southeast Asian grasslands. However, very little is known about the role of fire and pyric herbivory on the functioning of highly productive subtropical monsoon grasslands lying within the Cwa climatic region. We assessed the temporal effect of fire on postfire regrowth quality and associated pyric-herbivory in the subtropical monsoon grasslands of Bardia National Park, Nepal. Every year, grasslands are burned as a management intervention in the park, especially between March and May. Within a week after fire, at the end of March 2020, we established 60 m x 60 m plots within patches of burned grassland in the core area of the Park. We collected grass samples from the plots and determined physical and chemical properties of the vegetation at regular 30-day intervals from April to July 2020, starting from 30 days after fire to assess postfire regrowth forage quality. We counted pellet groups of cervids that are abundant in the area for the same four months from 2 m x 2 m quadrats that were permanently marked with pegs along the diagonal of each 60 m x 60 m plot to estimate intensity of use by deer to the progression of postfire regrowth. We observed strong and significant reductions in crude protein (mean value 9.1 to 4.1 [55% decrease]) and phosphorus (mean value 0.2 to 0.11 [45% decrease]) in forage collected during different time intervals, that is, from 30 days to 120 days after fire. Deer utilized the burned areas extensively for a short period, that is, up to two months after fire when the burned areas contained short grasses with a higher level of crude protein and phosphorus. The level of use of postfire regrowth by chital (Axis axis) differed significantly over time since fire, with higher intensity of use at 30 days after fire. The level of use of postfire regrowth by swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) did not differ significantly until 90 days after fire, however, decreased significantly after 90 days since fire. Large-scale single event fires, thus, may not fulfil nutritional requirements of all species in the deer assemblage in these subtropical monsoon grasslands. This is likely because the nutritional requirements of herbivores differ due to differences in body size and physiological needs-maintenance, reproduction, and lactation. We recommend a spatiotemporal manipulation of fire to reinforce grazing feedback and to yield forage of high quality for the longest possible period for a sustainable high number of deer to maintain a viable tiger population within the park.

Authors/Creators:Thapa, Shyam Kumar and de Jong, Joost F. and Hof, Anouschka and Subedi, Naresh and Joshi, Laxmi Raj and Prins, Herbert H. T.
Title:Fire and forage quality: Postfire regrowth quality and pyric herbivory in subtropical grasslands of Nepal
Series Name/Journal:Ecology and Evolution
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:12
Number:4
Article number:e8794
Number of Pages:14
Publisher:WILEY
ISSN:2045-7758
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:burned grassland, Cwa climate, grazer and mixed feeders, grazing lawns, Mesofaunal deer assemblage, nutrients
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116808
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116808
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1002/ece3.8794
Web of Science (WoS)000781949900001
ID Code:27645
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:28 Apr 2022 14:25
Metadata Last Modified:28 Apr 2022 14:31

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