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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

Fire management and aspects of the nesting biology of the Red-legged Seriema (Cariama cristata)... Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 230–237. ARTICLE December 2019 Fire management and aspects of the nesting biology of the Red-legged Seriema (Cariama cristata) in woodlands at Parque Nacional das Emas, central Cerrado 1,2 Dárius Pukenis Tubelis Departamento de Biociências, Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido, Campus Mossoró, Mossoró, RN, Brazil. Corresponding author: darius.tubelis@gmail.com Received on 20 May 2019. Accepted on 10 December 2019. 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 s hort grasses in interior portions of PNE. KEY-WORDS: bird, breeding season, Cariamidae, egg, nest, reproduction, Savanna. INTRODUCTION occur in the dry season to create areas of vegetation with reduced biomass that stop fires from adjacent farmlands Fire management for biodiversity conservation is a (Pivello 2006, França et al. 2007). common practice in several temperate and tropical regions Although the impact of fires on the Cerrado flora (e.g., Miranda et al. 2009, Bardsley et al. 2019, Phalan et is well known, information about its influence on many al. 2019). Birds' responses can vary with characteristics of groups of native fauna is lacking (Mistry 1998, Miranda prescribed fires, such as severity, frequency, heterogeneity et al. 2004, 2009). Few studies have examined the impacts and season (Greenberg et al. 2019, Zlonis et al. 2019). Fire of natural or accidental fires on bir d communities (e.g., management may affect birds' abundance and breeding Fry 1970, Cavalcanti & Alves 1997, Cintra & Sanaiotti due to changes in the vegetation and associated resources 2005), and research on the impact of fire management on (e.g., O'Loughlin et al. 2019, Ragheb et al. 2019). Studies particular species is scarce. For example, at Parque Nacional on avian response to different types of fires have predicted das Emas (PNE), in central Brazil, two investigations future fire scenarios, thus promoting the conservation of showed that Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Ara ararauna, are target species (e.g., Connell et al. 2019). attracted to grassland and woodland firebreaks. They seek In the Cerrado, a Savanna eco-region in central the firebreaks to eat fruits of Cashew-apples Anacardium Brazil, fire management in conservation units usually humile, a species benefited by fire ( Tubelis 2009a, b). involves burning woodland and grassland strips almost Further, the only study investigating the influence of every year (Miranda et al. 2002, 2004, França et al. 2007). fire management on bir d reproduction in the Cerrado, These strips of managed vegetation are firebreaks that lie also at PNE, has shown that active nests of Burrowing between two unsealed roads and are settled along borders Owls, Athene cunicularia, are more numerous in managed and in the interior of conservation units (Ramos-Neto grasslands than in unmanaged patches (Tubelis & Delitti & Pivello 2000, França et al. 2007). Firebreaks usually 2010). However, the influence of fire management within Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis Cerrado conservation units is still unknown for most bird and veredas – wet grasslands with scattered palm trees species. (França et al. 2007). Further information on Cerrado This lack of information includes the Red-legged landscapes can be found in general references about this Seriema, Cariama cristata Linnaeus, 1766, a large eco-region (e.g., Eiten 1972, Oliveira & Marquis 2002, terrestrial bird species typical of Cerrado landscapes Scariot et al. 2005). (Antas & Cavalcanti 1988, Sick 1997). Adults of this Elevation at PNE ranges between 720 and 900 m species are about 90 cm high and body mass around a.s.l. (França et al. 2007). The regional climate is marked 1.5 kg (Gonzaga 1996, Sick 1997). Their long legs by two well-defined periods: the dry season, between May allow them to walk and run on unsealed roads and and September; and the rainy season, between October through non-forest vegetation in landscapes covered by and April. Annual rainfall ranges between 1200 and 2000 native matrix types, exotic plantations and cleared areas mm and temperatures usually range between 10 C in the (Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Redford & Peters 1986, Brooks winter (July) and 40 C in the summer (January) (Assad 2014). They are territorial animals (Souza et al. 2018) 1994). that feed on arthropods, small rodents, lizards and snakes At PNE, fires can be natural or human-induced (Gonzaga 1996). (Redford 1985, França et al. 2007). During the rainy Red-legged Seriemas breed between September period, natural fires from lightning tend to burn small and January in Brazil. Nests are round, rough structures areas, which are stopped by the rain (Ramos-Neto & composed of sticks and twigs lined with leaves, grasses Pivello 2000). Illegal human-induced fires originate on and clay (Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Almeida 1994, Silva adjacent farms and are used to renew the grassy vegetation et al. 2016). Birds usually build nests in trees, 1–5 m for cattle. These fires start during the dry period and can above ground, and lay up to four eggs that are incubated reach the park, where they can spread through extensive for one month (Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994, portions of the landscape (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000, Gonzaga 1996). Red-legged Seriemas inhabit burned and França et al. 2007). Fire management by park managers is unburned savanna vegetation at PNE (Redford & Peters restricted to maintaining the firebreaks, i.e., grassland or 1986), and their responses to fire management remain woodland strips that usually burn in the dry season (June, unstudied. The objective of this study was to investigate July). These procedures avoid fire from spreading to the the effects of fire management on nest-site selection by inner area of the park during the dry season. Firebreaks C. cristata at PNE. I compared the number of nests in are located between two unsealed roads and are usually areas of Campo Cerrado woodlands with (firebreaks) and 25–100 m wide (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000, França et without fire management. I also described characteristics al. 2007). of their nests, eggs, nestlings, plant support for nest building, and nest position in the woodlands. Results are discussed in terms of the influence of fire management on birds in Cerrado conservation units. METHODS Study area This study took place at Parque Nacional das Emas (PNE), a 132,000 ha conservation unit in the state of Goiás, central Brazil (Fig. 1). This reserve harbors several vegetation physiognomies commonly found in the Cerrado. Grasslands are the main matrix type, covering mostly flat uplands (França et al. 2007). Another matrix type occurring in uplands is the Campo Cerrado Figure 1. Location of the 34 study sites searched for Cariama woodland (Eiten 1993). Its herbaceous stratum is also cristata nests at Parque Nacional das Emas, in Goiás state, developed but shrubs and trees are more numerous central Brazil, in October and November 2006: (E) pairs of than in grasslands (Eiten 1972, Oliveira-Filho & Ratter study sites formed by a firebreak and an adjacent unmanaged 2002). However, the woody strata are open enough to woodland located at the edge of the park; (I) pairs of study sites allow large terrestrial vertebrates to pass through (Antas formed by a firebreak and an adjacent unmanaged woodland & Cavalcanti 1988, Marinho-Filho et al. 2002). Less located in the interior of the park; (D) unmanaged woodlands dominant physiognomies in this park are gallery forests distant from roads and located in the park's interior. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis Study sites search on foot. After sampling a firebreak, the adjacent woodland was surveyed in the opposite direction. Distant I selected a total of 34 study sites (2.5-km long and 30 woodlands were always searched on foot, since there were to 80-m wide transects) at PNE (Fig. 1). These were no roads. portions of Campo Cerrado woodlands grouped into five Sightings favored large size nests in tree canopies. treatments, with a variable number of replicates: 1) “edge Every large nest detected was approached on foot to firebreaks”, i.e., fire-managed Campo Cerrado woodland verify whether it was a Seriema nest. Species such as the strips adjacent to the park frontier (seven replicates), 2) Aplomado Falcon, Falco femoralis (Temminck, 1822), “adjacent to edge woodlands”, i.e., unmanaged Campo and the Buff-necked I bis, Theristicus caudatus (Boddaert, Cerrado woodland strips adjacent to the edge firebreaks 1783), also build large arboreal nests at firebreaks during (seven replicates), 3) “interior firebreaks”, i.e., fire- this period (Tubelis 2019b). When I approached, adult managed Campo Cerrado woodland strips located more birds were identified w hen they flew (falcons and i bises) than 3 km away from the park frontiers (eight replicates), or ran away (Seriemas) from the nests. 4) “woodlands adjacent to interior firebreaks”, i.e., unmanaged Campo Cerrado woodland strips adjacent Observations and measurements to interior firebreaks (eight replicates), 5) “distant woodlands”, i.e., Campo Cerrado woodland strips After been found, nests were visited 2–3 times more than 3 km away from the park frontiers and more during the search period and once in a second period than 400 m away from roads (four replicates). Sampled (between 11 and 14 November 2006) to verify the firebreaks and a djacent woodlands were separated by an presence and conditions of eggs and nestlings. This unsealed road about 7 m wide. These study sites were interval of about 30 days between the two periods spread at least 700 m apart throughout the park (Fig. 1). occurred due to time availability. During each visit to a The vegetation of the sampled firebreaks and nest, I used a mirror fixed to a pole to count nestlings unmanaged woodlands differed mainly in relation to the and eggs. The distance between the bottom of the nests height of the grassy stratum. All study sites were dominated and the ground was measured with a Bosch laser tape. by Capim Flexa grass (Tristachya leiostachya Ness.), usually Additionally, small branches from where nests were built 80–150 cm high in unmanaged woodlands and 20–30 were collected and photographed to identify the plant. cm high in firebreaks (pers. comm.). These differences I did not measure nests and did not handle nestlings or in vegetation occur because unmanaged woodlands are eggs. On a few occasions, eggs and nestlings were counted usually burned every 6–10 years by natural or accidental and photographed by climbing the tree. fire, while park managers usually burn firebreaks every RESULTS 1–2 years at PNE (França et al. 2007). Some firebreaks had sparse fully developed Capim Flexa grass, since there Thirteen C. cristata nests were found in the 34 study sites was lack of funding for burning. located at PNE. All of them were at edge firebreaks, and To ensure the sampling for comparable areas with one (n = 1) or two (n = 6) nests were found at each of the different treatments, I selected uniform firebreak sections seven study sites. Thus, no nests were found in interior and sampled the same width in adjacent woodlands. The width of firebreaks and a djacent woodland sites ranged firebreaks, nor in sites of the three treatments regar ding unmanaged woodlands. between 30 and 70 m. Distant woodland sites were 100 Nests were rough and nearly round structures built m wide due to a lower number of replicates, thus, the with diverse materials, such as sticks, twigs and clay (Fig. observer had about 50 m of woodlands on each side. The 2A, B). Eight (61%) nests contained white eggs with some length of study sites was determined using a Garmin GPS with an error of 8 m. brownish dust patches (Fig. 2B). Only one nest had three eggs, while seven had two eggs. Another five (39%) nests had no eggs, but did have two nestlings, when examined Search for nests for the first time ( Table 1). Nestlings were mostly gray, with thin white feathers mainly on the head and belly I searched for C. cristata nests in the study sites every morning (09:30 h to 11:00 h) and afternoon (15:00 h (Fig. 2C). On three occasions, adult birds showed aggressive to 17:00 h) between 01 and 12 October 2006. Four to behavior in response to the observer's approach (Fig. eight study sites were searched in a given day. I slowly 2D), thus nests were not examined. This behavior drove a vehicle along the road between firebreaks and occurred during the late incubation period, as revealed by adjacent woodlands. When a high density of fully developed Capim Flexa grass hindered visibility, I would examination of the nests a few days later (Table 1). Eggs were found in nests from the second to the last day of the leave the vehicle and enter the woodland to continue the Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis A B C D Figure 2. Aspects of the nests, eggs, nestlings and adults of Cariama cristata in woodland firebreaks at Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazilian Cerrado, during the 2006 breeding season: (A) an adult incubating eggs; (B) two eggs in a nest; (C) two nestlings in a nest; (D) an adult with aggressive behavior in response to the observer's approach. Table 1. Nest contents, height and distance to park's fence of Reg-legged Seriemas, Cariama cristata, in woodland firebreaks (Campo Cerrado strips managed by fire) at the edge of Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazil, in October and November 2006. Distance (m) Height (m) Nest content 01 2.8 Two eggs (02 and 10 Oct); two nestlings (12 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 25 2.2 Three eggs (03, 05 and 07 O ct); empty (14 Nov). 12 2.3 Two eggs (04, 08 and 12 Oct); empty (13 Nov). 74 3.8 Two nestlings (04, 10 and 12 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 20 2.4 Two nestlings (01, 02 and 11 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 38 2.6 Two nestlings (05, 06 and 09 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 08 2.9 Two eggs (02, 04 and 09 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 01 2.7 Two eggs (04, 06 and 08 Oct); two nestlings (11 Oct); empty (13 Nov). 10 3.2 Two eggs (04, 07 and 09 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 18 2.2 Two eggs (03 and 07 Oct); two nestlings (08 Oct); empty (14 Nov). Adult did not leave the nest (05 Oct); two nestlings (07 and 10 Oct); empty (12 32 1.8 Nov). Two eggs (03 Oct); adult did not leave the nest (08 Oct); two nestlings (11 Oct); 22 4.3 empty (11 Nov). Adult did not leave the nest (02 and 09 Oct); two nestlings (10 Oct); empty (11 54 2.7 Nov). search period (02–12 October). Similarly, nestlings were nests had no eggs or nestlings in mid-November (Table 1). found in nests between 01 and 12 October. For four nests, There was no evidence of nest predation or destruction. I recorded two nestlings a few days after finding two eggs, All nests were built on trees. They were up to 74 m indicating egg hatching between 07 and 12 October. The away from the park boundaries, and two nests were nearly number of eggs and nestlings found per nest was always on top of the fence (Table 1, Fig. 3B). The mean distance the same for the consecutive inspections in October. All of the nests to the fence was 24.2 m (SD = 21.1). Nest Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis A B C D Figure 3. Aspects of the vegetation and nests of Cariama cristata at firebreaks located along the edge of Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazil, in October 2006: (A) a nest built in the canopy of a small tree located in an area with sparse trees; (B) a nest built nearly over the park's fence adjacent to a pasture; (C) a nest built in a tree canopy in an area with denser woody vegetation; (D) a branch often used by adults to jump to the nest. height ranged between 1.8 and 4.3 m, with a mean of 2.8 the younger birds. Another factor that contributes to m (SD = 0.9). Trees that supported the nests could be choosing boundary firebreaks for nesting is the presence short with a few branches or tall, highly ramified and with of exotic plantations and cleared areas adjacent to the numerous leaves (Fig. 3A, B, C). As nests were built on park, where Seriemas often forage. From November to canopies, adults usually perched on branches and leaves. February, pairs and families expand their home range up Some trees had lower branches adults used to jump up to 400–500 m into soybean plantations and harvested to the nest (Fig. 3D). Nine (69%) nests were in fruiting areas adjacent to PNE to search for food resources such Pouteria torta (Mart.) (Sapotaceae), one in Piptocarpha as grasshoppers, beetles, rodents, lizards and birds (pers. rotundifolia (Less.) Baker (Vernonieae) and the others com.), similarly to that observed for Southern Caracaras, in Annona crassiflora Mart. (Annonaceae). Other plants Caracara plancus Miller, 1777 (Tubelis 2019a). could not be identified due to missing photographs and On the other hand, obstacles to establish territories branches. and home ranges, which usually encompass about 20 ha in the Cerrado (Souza et al. 2018), meant there were no nests in the interior firebreaks. Breeding pairs would need DISCUSSION to increase their home range to nest in interior firebreaks, as these managed strips were surrounded by an unsuitable Nest distribution in the study sites matrix marked by high densities of tall Capim Flexa grass. In interior portions of the park, these managed woodlands Nests were found exclusively at edge firebreaks, not been and adjacent roads usually measure 30 m and 7 m in recorded in sites of the other treatments. Their absence width, respectively. Thus, home ranges would measure in unmanaged Campo Cerrado might be mainly due to about 44 m in width and 4.5 km in length to reach 20 ha. factors related to vegetation. Probably, young and adult Such extremely long home ranges would bring negative Seriemas have trouble walking through the dense and consequences for nestling care and foraging efficiency (see tall grassy stratum dominated by fully developed Capim Pyke et al. 1977, Tubelis et al. 2004). Flexa in unmanaged woodlands. On other hand, frequent The absence of C. cristata nests in four treatments controlled fires mean shorter grass, probably favoring most likely did not result from low detectability in mobility and vigilance at the firebreaks . tall grasses, since nests are easily seen as large and dark Further, the two unsealed roads adjacent to managed structures in trees. Moreover, in cases of low visibility due woodlands could favor nesting on edge firebreaks. Cariama to tall grass, the observer occasionally left the vehicle and cristata often use the roads in this park (Redford & Peters walked for hundreds of meters on adjacent woodlands. 1986), which are important for mobility, especially for The sampling in this study was enough to discover nests Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis in a selection of edge firebreaks. This pattern should not studies on Seriema breeding have not reported nests in P. be interpreted as a total dependence on edge firebreaks, torta trees (e.g., Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994, but as a general tendency to use managed woodlands that Marini et al. 2012). The literature has not identified a are adjacent to the frontiers of PNE. preference for any given species, since few nests were found. Eggs, nestlings, nests and trees Fire management and conservation issues Clutches with two and three eggs recorded at firebreaks For large mammals conservation, Silveira et al. (1999) agrees with findings from previous studies (e.g., Redford recommended a fire management program including & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994), and clutches with one to rotating controlled fires in different sections of PNE. four eggs were also reported in major reviews regarding Additionally, Ramos-Neto & Pivello (2000) stressed the reproduction of Seriemas (e.g., Miranda-Ribeiro the need for reevaluating policies and management 1937, Gonzaga 1996). Redford & Peters (1986) reported procedures concerning fire in this park. They argued nests found in September and October at PNE. Although that the natural fire regime benefits biodiversity, since in the present study I did not search in September, all fires started by lightning create mosaics of grassland and nests found at firebreaks had eggs or nestlings in the first woodland patches with different amounts of biomass half of October. Considering that incubation period throughout the park (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000). lasts a month (Gonzaga 1996), eggs were laid in early My study of C. cristata agrees with these two September or late August at firebreaks. Thus, bree ding investigations. Natural fires in the rainy season activities of the studied Seriemas began during the dry shortened grasses, creating suitable patches of Campo season at PNE. Also in agreement with Redford & Peters Cerrado woodlands for Seriemas. Similarly, fire (1986), I found no eggs or nestlings during the second management programs can generate such patches period of inspections (mid-November). As the two (woodlands surrounded by firebreaks) by rotating periods of observations of this study were separated by human-induced fires on several sections of the park. nearly 30 days, I cannot be sure whether the absence of These patches of Campo Cerrado woodland without nestlings in November represents predation or successful fully developed Capim Flexa grass would be essential fledging. However, there is no evidence of nest destruction to nest a desirable number of Seriemas inside the by storms, humans or animals, since as all nests were still park. Although firebreaks mitigate the negative in the trees and had no signs of damage in the last period effects of dominant tall Capim Flexa grass, this could of field activities. lead to negative consequences for Seriemas if this is The nest heights at firebreaks are within the range the sole fire management practice at PNE. Without reported in the most recent review on the biology of enough suitable habitat throughout the park, the Seriemas (Gonzaga 1996), which reported nests at heights population of Seriemas will remain concentrated near of 1–5 m. Additionally, the general aspect of the nests, its boundaries. their size and materials were similar to those reported in previous studies (e.g., Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Seriemas probably consider accessibility as a factor when selecting trees for nesting. Since adults bring vegetal I thank Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido for material to the nest on short flights (Almeida 1994, Silva logistic support. Mário Barroso Ramos-Neto provided et al. 2016), they may choose tree canopies with a certain a map of the park. Rogério Souza, from the Instituto branch architecture and amount of leaves to perch, move Brasileiro de Recursos Naturais e Renováveis (IBAMA), in the nests during incubation, care for nestlings, and provided a license to study birds at Parque Nacional das detect potential predators. Moreover, they may prefer Emas. Margarete Naomi Sato identified t he plant species. trees with one or a few nearly horizontal branches at Three anonymous reviewers, Dra. Lilian Manica, Renata lower heights for their frequent jumps towards the nest. Cambraia and Adriano P. Campos made constructive Pouteria torta, the plant species most frequently used for suggestions on an early version of this manuscript. nesting, appears to provide these advantages for Seriemas. This resear ch was funded by Conselho Nacional de It is abundant in Campo Cerrado firebreaks and its Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico/CNPq (proc. height is like most trees (pers. obs.). This tree was fruiting 471360/2006-6), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do in October and November, but the fruit was not ripe, so Estado de São Paulo/FAPESP (process no. 05/00773-3), it was probably not attractive for potential omnivorous and Idea Wild. predators during the Seriemas' nesting period. Previous Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis and ecosystem dynamics. New York: Springer Praxis. REFERENCES Miranda-Ribeiro A. 1937. A Seriema. Revista do Museu Paulista 23: 35–90. Almeida A.C.C. 1994. Notas sobre a biologia reprodutiva da Seriema Mistry J. 1998. Fire in the Cerrado (savannas) of Brazil: an ecological Cariama cristata (Linnaeus, 1766) (Gruiformes‐Cariamidae). review. Progress in Physical Geography 22: 425–448. Revista Nordestina de Biologia 9: 49–59. Oliveira P.S. & Marquis R.J. (eds.). 2002. The Cerrados of Brazil: Antas P.T.Z. & Cavalcanti R.B. 1988. 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Brasileira de Ornitologia 27: 225–229. 2019. Burn severity and heterogeneity mediate avian response to Tubelis D.P. & Delitti W.B.C. 2010. Fire management and the nesting wildfire in a hemiboreal forest. Forest Ecology and Management of Athene cunicularia (Aves, Strigidae) in grasslands in central 439: 70–80. Cerrado, Brazil. Biota Neotropica 10: 93–101. Tubelis D.P., Lindenmayer D.B. & Cowling A. 2004. Novel patch- Associate Editor: Lilian T. Manica. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ornithology Research Springer Journals

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

Ornithology Research , Volume 27 (4) – Dec 1, 2019

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Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 230–237. ARTICLE December 2019 Fire management and aspects of the nesting biology of the Red-legged Seriema (Cariama cristata) in woodlands at Parque Nacional das Emas, central Cerrado 1,2 Dárius Pukenis Tubelis Departamento de Biociências, Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido, Campus Mossoró, Mossoró, RN, Brazil. Corresponding author: darius.tubelis@gmail.com Received on 20 May 2019. Accepted on 10 December 2019. 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 s hort grasses in interior portions of PNE. KEY-WORDS: bird, breeding season, Cariamidae, egg, nest, reproduction, Savanna. INTRODUCTION occur in the dry season to create areas of vegetation with reduced biomass that stop fires from adjacent farmlands Fire management for biodiversity conservation is a (Pivello 2006, França et al. 2007). common practice in several temperate and tropical regions Although the impact of fires on the Cerrado flora (e.g., Miranda et al. 2009, Bardsley et al. 2019, Phalan et is well known, information about its influence on many al. 2019). Birds' responses can vary with characteristics of groups of native fauna is lacking (Mistry 1998, Miranda prescribed fires, such as severity, frequency, heterogeneity et al. 2004, 2009). Few studies have examined the impacts and season (Greenberg et al. 2019, Zlonis et al. 2019). Fire of natural or accidental fires on bir d communities (e.g., management may affect birds' abundance and breeding Fry 1970, Cavalcanti & Alves 1997, Cintra & Sanaiotti due to changes in the vegetation and associated resources 2005), and research on the impact of fire management on (e.g., O'Loughlin et al. 2019, Ragheb et al. 2019). Studies particular species is scarce. For example, at Parque Nacional on avian response to different types of fires have predicted das Emas (PNE), in central Brazil, two investigations future fire scenarios, thus promoting the conservation of showed that Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Ara ararauna, are target species (e.g., Connell et al. 2019). attracted to grassland and woodland firebreaks. They seek In the Cerrado, a Savanna eco-region in central the firebreaks to eat fruits of Cashew-apples Anacardium Brazil, fire management in conservation units usually humile, a species benefited by fire ( Tubelis 2009a, b). involves burning woodland and grassland strips almost Further, the only study investigating the influence of every year (Miranda et al. 2002, 2004, França et al. 2007). fire management on bir d reproduction in the Cerrado, These strips of managed vegetation are firebreaks that lie also at PNE, has shown that active nests of Burrowing between two unsealed roads and are settled along borders Owls, Athene cunicularia, are more numerous in managed and in the interior of conservation units (Ramos-Neto grasslands than in unmanaged patches (Tubelis & Delitti & Pivello 2000, França et al. 2007). Firebreaks usually 2010). However, the influence of fire management within Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis Cerrado conservation units is still unknown for most bird and veredas – wet grasslands with scattered palm trees species. (França et al. 2007). Further information on Cerrado This lack of information includes the Red-legged landscapes can be found in general references about this Seriema, Cariama cristata Linnaeus, 1766, a large eco-region (e.g., Eiten 1972, Oliveira & Marquis 2002, terrestrial bird species typical of Cerrado landscapes Scariot et al. 2005). (Antas & Cavalcanti 1988, Sick 1997). Adults of this Elevation at PNE ranges between 720 and 900 m species are about 90 cm high and body mass around a.s.l. (França et al. 2007). The regional climate is marked 1.5 kg (Gonzaga 1996, Sick 1997). Their long legs by two well-defined periods: the dry season, between May allow them to walk and run on unsealed roads and and September; and the rainy season, between October through non-forest vegetation in landscapes covered by and April. Annual rainfall ranges between 1200 and 2000 native matrix types, exotic plantations and cleared areas mm and temperatures usually range between 10 C in the (Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Redford & Peters 1986, Brooks winter (July) and 40 C in the summer (January) (Assad 2014). They are territorial animals (Souza et al. 2018) 1994). that feed on arthropods, small rodents, lizards and snakes At PNE, fires can be natural or human-induced (Gonzaga 1996). (Redford 1985, França et al. 2007). During the rainy Red-legged Seriemas breed between September period, natural fires from lightning tend to burn small and January in Brazil. Nests are round, rough structures areas, which are stopped by the rain (Ramos-Neto & composed of sticks and twigs lined with leaves, grasses Pivello 2000). Illegal human-induced fires originate on and clay (Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Almeida 1994, Silva adjacent farms and are used to renew the grassy vegetation et al. 2016). Birds usually build nests in trees, 1–5 m for cattle. These fires start during the dry period and can above ground, and lay up to four eggs that are incubated reach the park, where they can spread through extensive for one month (Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994, portions of the landscape (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000, Gonzaga 1996). Red-legged Seriemas inhabit burned and França et al. 2007). Fire management by park managers is unburned savanna vegetation at PNE (Redford & Peters restricted to maintaining the firebreaks, i.e., grassland or 1986), and their responses to fire management remain woodland strips that usually burn in the dry season (June, unstudied. The objective of this study was to investigate July). These procedures avoid fire from spreading to the the effects of fire management on nest-site selection by inner area of the park during the dry season. Firebreaks C. cristata at PNE. I compared the number of nests in are located between two unsealed roads and are usually areas of Campo Cerrado woodlands with (firebreaks) and 25–100 m wide (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000, França et without fire management. I also described characteristics al. 2007). of their nests, eggs, nestlings, plant support for nest building, and nest position in the woodlands. Results are discussed in terms of the influence of fire management on birds in Cerrado conservation units. METHODS Study area This study took place at Parque Nacional das Emas (PNE), a 132,000 ha conservation unit in the state of Goiás, central Brazil (Fig. 1). This reserve harbors several vegetation physiognomies commonly found in the Cerrado. Grasslands are the main matrix type, covering mostly flat uplands (França et al. 2007). Another matrix type occurring in uplands is the Campo Cerrado Figure 1. Location of the 34 study sites searched for Cariama woodland (Eiten 1993). Its herbaceous stratum is also cristata nests at Parque Nacional das Emas, in Goiás state, developed but shrubs and trees are more numerous central Brazil, in October and November 2006: (E) pairs of than in grasslands (Eiten 1972, Oliveira-Filho & Ratter study sites formed by a firebreak and an adjacent unmanaged 2002). However, the woody strata are open enough to woodland located at the edge of the park; (I) pairs of study sites allow large terrestrial vertebrates to pass through (Antas formed by a firebreak and an adjacent unmanaged woodland & Cavalcanti 1988, Marinho-Filho et al. 2002). Less located in the interior of the park; (D) unmanaged woodlands dominant physiognomies in this park are gallery forests distant from roads and located in the park's interior. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis Study sites search on foot. After sampling a firebreak, the adjacent woodland was surveyed in the opposite direction. Distant I selected a total of 34 study sites (2.5-km long and 30 woodlands were always searched on foot, since there were to 80-m wide transects) at PNE (Fig. 1). These were no roads. portions of Campo Cerrado woodlands grouped into five Sightings favored large size nests in tree canopies. treatments, with a variable number of replicates: 1) “edge Every large nest detected was approached on foot to firebreaks”, i.e., fire-managed Campo Cerrado woodland verify whether it was a Seriema nest. Species such as the strips adjacent to the park frontier (seven replicates), 2) Aplomado Falcon, Falco femoralis (Temminck, 1822), “adjacent to edge woodlands”, i.e., unmanaged Campo and the Buff-necked I bis, Theristicus caudatus (Boddaert, Cerrado woodland strips adjacent to the edge firebreaks 1783), also build large arboreal nests at firebreaks during (seven replicates), 3) “interior firebreaks”, i.e., fire- this period (Tubelis 2019b). When I approached, adult managed Campo Cerrado woodland strips located more birds were identified w hen they flew (falcons and i bises) than 3 km away from the park frontiers (eight replicates), or ran away (Seriemas) from the nests. 4) “woodlands adjacent to interior firebreaks”, i.e., unmanaged Campo Cerrado woodland strips adjacent Observations and measurements to interior firebreaks (eight replicates), 5) “distant woodlands”, i.e., Campo Cerrado woodland strips After been found, nests were visited 2–3 times more than 3 km away from the park frontiers and more during the search period and once in a second period than 400 m away from roads (four replicates). Sampled (between 11 and 14 November 2006) to verify the firebreaks and a djacent woodlands were separated by an presence and conditions of eggs and nestlings. This unsealed road about 7 m wide. These study sites were interval of about 30 days between the two periods spread at least 700 m apart throughout the park (Fig. 1). occurred due to time availability. During each visit to a The vegetation of the sampled firebreaks and nest, I used a mirror fixed to a pole to count nestlings unmanaged woodlands differed mainly in relation to the and eggs. The distance between the bottom of the nests height of the grassy stratum. All study sites were dominated and the ground was measured with a Bosch laser tape. by Capim Flexa grass (Tristachya leiostachya Ness.), usually Additionally, small branches from where nests were built 80–150 cm high in unmanaged woodlands and 20–30 were collected and photographed to identify the plant. cm high in firebreaks (pers. comm.). These differences I did not measure nests and did not handle nestlings or in vegetation occur because unmanaged woodlands are eggs. On a few occasions, eggs and nestlings were counted usually burned every 6–10 years by natural or accidental and photographed by climbing the tree. fire, while park managers usually burn firebreaks every RESULTS 1–2 years at PNE (França et al. 2007). Some firebreaks had sparse fully developed Capim Flexa grass, since there Thirteen C. cristata nests were found in the 34 study sites was lack of funding for burning. located at PNE. All of them were at edge firebreaks, and To ensure the sampling for comparable areas with one (n = 1) or two (n = 6) nests were found at each of the different treatments, I selected uniform firebreak sections seven study sites. Thus, no nests were found in interior and sampled the same width in adjacent woodlands. The width of firebreaks and a djacent woodland sites ranged firebreaks, nor in sites of the three treatments regar ding unmanaged woodlands. between 30 and 70 m. Distant woodland sites were 100 Nests were rough and nearly round structures built m wide due to a lower number of replicates, thus, the with diverse materials, such as sticks, twigs and clay (Fig. observer had about 50 m of woodlands on each side. The 2A, B). Eight (61%) nests contained white eggs with some length of study sites was determined using a Garmin GPS with an error of 8 m. brownish dust patches (Fig. 2B). Only one nest had three eggs, while seven had two eggs. Another five (39%) nests had no eggs, but did have two nestlings, when examined Search for nests for the first time ( Table 1). Nestlings were mostly gray, with thin white feathers mainly on the head and belly I searched for C. cristata nests in the study sites every morning (09:30 h to 11:00 h) and afternoon (15:00 h (Fig. 2C). On three occasions, adult birds showed aggressive to 17:00 h) between 01 and 12 October 2006. Four to behavior in response to the observer's approach (Fig. eight study sites were searched in a given day. I slowly 2D), thus nests were not examined. This behavior drove a vehicle along the road between firebreaks and occurred during the late incubation period, as revealed by adjacent woodlands. When a high density of fully developed Capim Flexa grass hindered visibility, I would examination of the nests a few days later (Table 1). Eggs were found in nests from the second to the last day of the leave the vehicle and enter the woodland to continue the Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis A B C D Figure 2. Aspects of the nests, eggs, nestlings and adults of Cariama cristata in woodland firebreaks at Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazilian Cerrado, during the 2006 breeding season: (A) an adult incubating eggs; (B) two eggs in a nest; (C) two nestlings in a nest; (D) an adult with aggressive behavior in response to the observer's approach. Table 1. Nest contents, height and distance to park's fence of Reg-legged Seriemas, Cariama cristata, in woodland firebreaks (Campo Cerrado strips managed by fire) at the edge of Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazil, in October and November 2006. Distance (m) Height (m) Nest content 01 2.8 Two eggs (02 and 10 Oct); two nestlings (12 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 25 2.2 Three eggs (03, 05 and 07 O ct); empty (14 Nov). 12 2.3 Two eggs (04, 08 and 12 Oct); empty (13 Nov). 74 3.8 Two nestlings (04, 10 and 12 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 20 2.4 Two nestlings (01, 02 and 11 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 38 2.6 Two nestlings (05, 06 and 09 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 08 2.9 Two eggs (02, 04 and 09 Oct); empty (14 Nov). 01 2.7 Two eggs (04, 06 and 08 Oct); two nestlings (11 Oct); empty (13 Nov). 10 3.2 Two eggs (04, 07 and 09 Oct); empty (12 Nov). 18 2.2 Two eggs (03 and 07 Oct); two nestlings (08 Oct); empty (14 Nov). Adult did not leave the nest (05 Oct); two nestlings (07 and 10 Oct); empty (12 32 1.8 Nov). Two eggs (03 Oct); adult did not leave the nest (08 Oct); two nestlings (11 Oct); 22 4.3 empty (11 Nov). Adult did not leave the nest (02 and 09 Oct); two nestlings (10 Oct); empty (11 54 2.7 Nov). search period (02–12 October). Similarly, nestlings were nests had no eggs or nestlings in mid-November (Table 1). found in nests between 01 and 12 October. For four nests, There was no evidence of nest predation or destruction. I recorded two nestlings a few days after finding two eggs, All nests were built on trees. They were up to 74 m indicating egg hatching between 07 and 12 October. The away from the park boundaries, and two nests were nearly number of eggs and nestlings found per nest was always on top of the fence (Table 1, Fig. 3B). The mean distance the same for the consecutive inspections in October. All of the nests to the fence was 24.2 m (SD = 21.1). Nest Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis A B C D Figure 3. Aspects of the vegetation and nests of Cariama cristata at firebreaks located along the edge of Parque Nacional das Emas, central Brazil, in October 2006: (A) a nest built in the canopy of a small tree located in an area with sparse trees; (B) a nest built nearly over the park's fence adjacent to a pasture; (C) a nest built in a tree canopy in an area with denser woody vegetation; (D) a branch often used by adults to jump to the nest. height ranged between 1.8 and 4.3 m, with a mean of 2.8 the younger birds. Another factor that contributes to m (SD = 0.9). Trees that supported the nests could be choosing boundary firebreaks for nesting is the presence short with a few branches or tall, highly ramified and with of exotic plantations and cleared areas adjacent to the numerous leaves (Fig. 3A, B, C). As nests were built on park, where Seriemas often forage. From November to canopies, adults usually perched on branches and leaves. February, pairs and families expand their home range up Some trees had lower branches adults used to jump up to 400–500 m into soybean plantations and harvested to the nest (Fig. 3D). Nine (69%) nests were in fruiting areas adjacent to PNE to search for food resources such Pouteria torta (Mart.) (Sapotaceae), one in Piptocarpha as grasshoppers, beetles, rodents, lizards and birds (pers. rotundifolia (Less.) Baker (Vernonieae) and the others com.), similarly to that observed for Southern Caracaras, in Annona crassiflora Mart. (Annonaceae). Other plants Caracara plancus Miller, 1777 (Tubelis 2019a). could not be identified due to missing photographs and On the other hand, obstacles to establish territories branches. and home ranges, which usually encompass about 20 ha in the Cerrado (Souza et al. 2018), meant there were no nests in the interior firebreaks. Breeding pairs would need DISCUSSION to increase their home range to nest in interior firebreaks, as these managed strips were surrounded by an unsuitable Nest distribution in the study sites matrix marked by high densities of tall Capim Flexa grass. In interior portions of the park, these managed woodlands Nests were found exclusively at edge firebreaks, not been and adjacent roads usually measure 30 m and 7 m in recorded in sites of the other treatments. Their absence width, respectively. Thus, home ranges would measure in unmanaged Campo Cerrado might be mainly due to about 44 m in width and 4.5 km in length to reach 20 ha. factors related to vegetation. Probably, young and adult Such extremely long home ranges would bring negative Seriemas have trouble walking through the dense and consequences for nestling care and foraging efficiency (see tall grassy stratum dominated by fully developed Capim Pyke et al. 1977, Tubelis et al. 2004). Flexa in unmanaged woodlands. On other hand, frequent The absence of C. cristata nests in four treatments controlled fires mean shorter grass, probably favoring most likely did not result from low detectability in mobility and vigilance at the firebreaks . tall grasses, since nests are easily seen as large and dark Further, the two unsealed roads adjacent to managed structures in trees. Moreover, in cases of low visibility due woodlands could favor nesting on edge firebreaks. Cariama to tall grass, the observer occasionally left the vehicle and cristata often use the roads in this park (Redford & Peters walked for hundreds of meters on adjacent woodlands. 1986), which are important for mobility, especially for The sampling in this study was enough to discover nests Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis in a selection of edge firebreaks. This pattern should not studies on Seriema breeding have not reported nests in P. be interpreted as a total dependence on edge firebreaks, torta trees (e.g., Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994, but as a general tendency to use managed woodlands that Marini et al. 2012). The literature has not identified a are adjacent to the frontiers of PNE. preference for any given species, since few nests were found. Eggs, nestlings, nests and trees Fire management and conservation issues Clutches with two and three eggs recorded at firebreaks For large mammals conservation, Silveira et al. (1999) agrees with findings from previous studies (e.g., Redford recommended a fire management program including & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994), and clutches with one to rotating controlled fires in different sections of PNE. four eggs were also reported in major reviews regarding Additionally, Ramos-Neto & Pivello (2000) stressed the reproduction of Seriemas (e.g., Miranda-Ribeiro the need for reevaluating policies and management 1937, Gonzaga 1996). Redford & Peters (1986) reported procedures concerning fire in this park. They argued nests found in September and October at PNE. Although that the natural fire regime benefits biodiversity, since in the present study I did not search in September, all fires started by lightning create mosaics of grassland and nests found at firebreaks had eggs or nestlings in the first woodland patches with different amounts of biomass half of October. Considering that incubation period throughout the park (Ramos-Neto & Pivello 2000). lasts a month (Gonzaga 1996), eggs were laid in early My study of C. cristata agrees with these two September or late August at firebreaks. Thus, bree ding investigations. Natural fires in the rainy season activities of the studied Seriemas began during the dry shortened grasses, creating suitable patches of Campo season at PNE. Also in agreement with Redford & Peters Cerrado woodlands for Seriemas. Similarly, fire (1986), I found no eggs or nestlings during the second management programs can generate such patches period of inspections (mid-November). As the two (woodlands surrounded by firebreaks) by rotating periods of observations of this study were separated by human-induced fires on several sections of the park. nearly 30 days, I cannot be sure whether the absence of These patches of Campo Cerrado woodland without nestlings in November represents predation or successful fully developed Capim Flexa grass would be essential fledging. However, there is no evidence of nest destruction to nest a desirable number of Seriemas inside the by storms, humans or animals, since as all nests were still park. Although firebreaks mitigate the negative in the trees and had no signs of damage in the last period effects of dominant tall Capim Flexa grass, this could of field activities. lead to negative consequences for Seriemas if this is The nest heights at firebreaks are within the range the sole fire management practice at PNE. Without reported in the most recent review on the biology of enough suitable habitat throughout the park, the Seriemas (Gonzaga 1996), which reported nests at heights population of Seriemas will remain concentrated near of 1–5 m. Additionally, the general aspect of the nests, its boundaries. their size and materials were similar to those reported in previous studies (e.g., Miranda-Ribeiro 1937, Redford & Peters 1986, Almeida 1994). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Seriemas probably consider accessibility as a factor when selecting trees for nesting. Since adults bring vegetal I thank Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido for material to the nest on short flights (Almeida 1994, Silva logistic support. Mário Barroso Ramos-Neto provided et al. 2016), they may choose tree canopies with a certain a map of the park. Rogério Souza, from the Instituto branch architecture and amount of leaves to perch, move Brasileiro de Recursos Naturais e Renováveis (IBAMA), in the nests during incubation, care for nestlings, and provided a license to study birds at Parque Nacional das detect potential predators. Moreover, they may prefer Emas. Margarete Naomi Sato identified t he plant species. trees with one or a few nearly horizontal branches at Three anonymous reviewers, Dra. Lilian Manica, Renata lower heights for their frequent jumps towards the nest. Cambraia and Adriano P. Campos made constructive Pouteria torta, the plant species most frequently used for suggestions on an early version of this manuscript. nesting, appears to provide these advantages for Seriemas. This resear ch was funded by Conselho Nacional de It is abundant in Campo Cerrado firebreaks and its Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico/CNPq (proc. height is like most trees (pers. obs.). This tree was fruiting 471360/2006-6), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do in October and November, but the fruit was not ripe, so Estado de São Paulo/FAPESP (process no. 05/00773-3), it was probably not attractive for potential omnivorous and Idea Wild. predators during the Seriemas' nesting period. Previous Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 27(4): 2019 Fire management and Cariama cristata nesting in the Cerrado Tubelis and ecosystem dynamics. New York: Springer Praxis. REFERENCES Miranda-Ribeiro A. 1937. A Seriema. Revista do Museu Paulista 23: 35–90. Almeida A.C.C. 1994. Notas sobre a biologia reprodutiva da Seriema Mistry J. 1998. Fire in the Cerrado (savannas) of Brazil: an ecological Cariama cristata (Linnaeus, 1766) (Gruiformes‐Cariamidae). review. Progress in Physical Geography 22: 425–448. Revista Nordestina de Biologia 9: 49–59. Oliveira P.S. & Marquis R.J. (eds.). 2002. The Cerrados of Brazil: Antas P.T.Z. & Cavalcanti R.B. 1988. 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Journal

Ornithology ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 1, 2019

Keywords: bird; breeding season; Cariamidae; egg; nest; reproduction; Savanna

References