Disturbance caused by anthropogenic fires are increasingly affecting the biodiversity of fire-prone ecosystems worldwide. The Cerrado biodiversity hotspot suffers higher deforestation rates than Amazonia and concentrates most of the burned areas in South America. To support adequate fire-management decisions in Cerrado, knowledge on the effects of altered fire regimes upon its animal populations is necessary. Based on a long-term, large-scale fire experiment, we investigated the effects of different fire regimes on the demography of the gymnophthalmid Micrablepharus atticolus, an endemic lizard of the Cerrado. Because M. atticolus is more abundant in open habitats, we predicted that frequent burns should favor its populations. Over eight years, we conducted a mark-recapture study using pitfall trap arrays in five 10 ha plots of cerrado sensu stricto, subjected to prescribed burns. Using generalized linear mixed-models of time series data and an information theoretic approach to select demographic models, we describe the life history of M. atticolus and assess the response of apparent survival, detectability, and recruitment to burn regimes and climate variation. Micrablepharus atticolus has an annual life cycle, with complete annual population turnover; breeding takes place during the dry season, when activity is higher, and hatchlings appear in the wet season. Apparent survival, detectability, and recruitment increased in the short-run after the passage of fire in all experimental plots. In the long run, however, both fire-suppression and more severe fire regimes were seemingly detrimental, presumably by affecting microclimatic conditions and food availability. Short-term studies may not adequately describe the effects of fire on the demography of lizard populations. Adequate fire management is warranted for biodiversity conservation in Cerrado, both inside and outside protected areas, including a reduction in the frequency and severity of burns in open physiognomies and controlled, patch mosaic fires to prevent excessive fuel accumulation in denser physiognomies.
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