Fire and its implication on trees and tree species utilize by birds for nesting in a Nigeria’s savanna woodland
The phenomenon of fire and vegetation evolved a long time ago. Due to man’s activity, fire has assumed even an important dimension compared with other environmental variables in shaping the composition, biomass, structure, function and distribution of plant communities, including animal populations, especially in the savanna woodland ecosystem. A plant-herbivore interaction is expected to change in relation to fire, and this is highly variable in forest landscapes. Little is known about the fire and vegetation interaction at the study area. This study, therefore, sets out to investigate fire and its implication on trees and tree species utilized by birds for nesting in the Yankari Game Reserve (9°45’N 10°30’E), West Africa . The reserve covers a total area of 2, 244 km² in the east-central part of Nigeria and 100 km south east of Bauchi town in Bauchi State, Nigeria. Line transect was used to record densities of vegetation and bird nest variables. Ninety transects of 1000 m long were selected randomly in the savanna woodlands. Tree species and bird nests were identified and recorded along each transect. Density estimate and all variables were measured at 100 m section along the transect line.
Our finding showed that fire generally had negative consequences on woody plants in the Yankari Game Reserve. More woody plants were affected during the late burning regime compared to the early regime. Higher density of death and stunted trees were recorded in the burnt areas of the reserve. Birds appear to adapt well to the fire regime practiced in the reserve as they put up their nest for breeding after the fire have been set up. The Combretum tree species was most adversely affected by fire compared with other woody plants. Late fire regime is implicated to cause direct death and stuntedness in most woody plants perhaps due to its intensity. Many studies have shown that late fire regimes are hotter and detrimental to woody plants. We recommend a review in policy of the burning regime to fit in with the ecological reality of the game reserve.