We investigated the effects of prescribed understory fire and shrub density on a population of dusky-footed woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes) live-trapped each spring and fall from October 1993 to 2001. We performed model selection with program MARK on capture–recapture data using Pollock's robust design to estimate survival and temporary emigration. Abundance increased from 1993 to a peak in 1997 and then decreased steadily from 1997 to 2001, accompanied by reduced reproduction. Survival was age- and time-dependent. Differential temporary emigration probabilities were explained by home-range size differences. Survival and abundance were higher in plots with high shrub cover vs. plots with low shrub cover. A low-medium intensity, prescribed understory fire in the fall of 1997 had no negative effect on survival or temporary emigration. The only fire-related negative demographic effect was a reduction in the number of juveniles per adult female on burned plots in the spring immediately after the fire. Prescribed understory fire in oak woodland is unlikely to alter woodrat populations significantly if patches of well-structured habitat are maintained.
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Vol. 69 • No. 3