Response of Six-Lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata) to Habitat Restoration in Fire-Suppressed Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) Sandhills


Address correspondence to D. A. Steen, email


Six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata) is an indicator species of frequently burned Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests. To evaluate how the species responded to forest restoration, we conducted a mark-recapture study in formerly fire-suppressed Longleaf pine forests exposed to prescribed fire or fire surrogates (i.e. mechanical or herbicide-facilitated hardwood removal) as well as in fire-suppressed control sites and reference sites, which represented the historic condition. After initial treatment, all sites were exposed to over a decade of prescribed burning with an average return interval of approximately 2 years. We used population-level response of A. sexlineata as an indicator of the effectiveness of the different treatments in restoring habitat. Specifically, we compared mean numbers of marked adults and juveniles at treatment sites to that of reference sites. After 4 years, restoration objectives were met at sites treated with burning alone and at sites treated with mechanical removal of hardwoods followed by fire. After over 10 years of prescribed burning, restoration objectives were met at all treatments. We conclude that prescribed burning alone was sufficient to restore fire-suppressed Longleaf pine sandhills for A. sexlineata populations.