In October 1995, a wildlands fire burned 5,000 ha on the Point Reyes peninsula, California, USA. In most of the nonforested areas, the fire effectively cleared the ground of litter and vegetation and revealed thousands of Point Reyes mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa phaea) burrow openings. In the first 6 months after the fire, we surveyed burned coastal scrub and riparian habitat to (1) count the number of burrow openings that existed at the time of the fire, and (2) evaluate whether signs of post-fire mountain beaver activity were evident. We estimated that only 0.4–1.7% of mountain beavers within the burn area survived the fire and immediate post-fire period. We monitored mountain beaver activity for 5 years at 8 sites where mountain beavers survived, and found little or no recovery. We estimate that the mountain beaver population will take 15–20 years post-fire to recover.
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Vol. 68 • No. 3