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Fire management and aspects of the nesting biology of the Red-legged Seriema (Cariama cristata) in woodlands at Parque Nacional das Emas, central Cerrado

Dárius Pukenis Tubelis

Abstract


In the Brazilian Cerrado Biome, fire management within conservation units is usually restricted to burning grassland and woodland strips during the dry season to stop fires from spreading. Although it is a common practice, the impact of fire management on birds remains poorly investigated. This study aimed to examine the effects of fire management on nest-site selection by the Red-legged Seriema, Cariama cristata, and to describe nest-building characteristics at Parque Nacional das Emas (PNE). Nests were searched and monitored throughout 34 study sites between October and November 2006. These sites were 2.5-km strips of Campo Cerrado woodlands with (firebreaks) and without fire management, located at the interior and boundaries of the park. A total of 13 nests were found, all within firebreaks at the edge of the park. Nine (69%) of them were in fruiting Pouteria torta (Mart.) (Sapotaceae). Two or three white eggs were found in the nests. Nests had eggs and nestlings in October and no nestlings were found in November. Nests were usually in tree canopies and some of them were built nearly over the park's fence. At PNE, breeding pairs of C. cristata are attracted to firebreaks located at the park's boundaries. This is probably due to mobility through often burnt vegetation and ease in obtaining food from adjacent unsealed roads, exotic plantations and cleared areas. This study suggests that fire managers should: 1) avoid extinguishing natural fires initiated during the rainy season and 2) rotate controlled burning of patchy areas of Campo Cerrado woodlands. These two procedures should ensure the presence of suitable woodlands with short grasses in interior portions of PNE.


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