Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth N. Geluso


A field study was conducted on a reestablished grassland to investigate the effects of a controlled burn on resident mammals eartagged so that comparisons with post-burn populations could be made; a control plot was similarly censused. Following the fire, no animals were caught on the burn plot for one week, and no direct evidence of fire-induced mortality was observed. Evidence that mammals survived the fire was based on comparisons of recapture success on experimental and control plots before and after the burn. Microtus pennsylvanicus (meadow voles) reinvaded the burned plot 93 days after the fire. The lack of dense vegetative cover appears to be the factor keeping voles from reinvading earlier, although the effect of increased predation may also be involved. The prolonged absence of voles apparently was not due to isolation of the burned plot from adjacent vole populations. Their absence cannot be attributed to the destruction of food, either, because grasses were growing on the burned area twelve weeks before voles reappeared. At the termination of this study, voles still had not become reestablished on the burned plot in numbers equal to those on the control plot or to those observed on the experimental plot before the fire. The lack of litter appears to be the primary factor keeping voles from reestablishing home range. Peromyscus maniculatus (deer mince), which were not found on either plot before the fire, invaded the burned area nine days after the fire when the grasses had begun to emerge. Reithrodontomys megalotis (harvest mice), present in low numbers prior to the burn, reinvaded the experimental plot three months following the fire. Harvest mice increased in numbers and remained at relatively high densities until the termination of trapping. The positive response exhibited by both deer and harvest mice could have been caused by either changes in vegetation or the decrease in competition from voles. Peromuscus leucopus (white-footed mice) were captured mainly in the woods and the fire had no noticeable effect on this population. Too little data were collected for Blarina brevicauda (short-tailed shrews), Sorex cinereus (masked shrews), Spermophilus tridecemlineatus (thirteen-lined ground squirrels), S. franklinii (Franklin’s ground squirrels), Mus musculus (house mice), Mustela nivalis (least weasels), Zapus hudsonius (meadow jumping mice), and Perognathus flavescens (plains pocket mice) to determine whether the fire has any effect on these species.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1981 P. Lynne Vacanti.