PALMDALE, CA - JULY 30: The Crown Fire continues to burn on July 30, 2010 in the hills above Palmdale, California. The 8,000-acre Crown Fire is approximately five percent contained. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
According to a study, unnaturally frequent wildfires may wipe out reptiles and amphibians that live in complex shrub lands, shrinking the biological diversity of burned areas, the North County Times reports.
The study, released this week to the media and published in the Journal of Herpetology, looked at 55 plots of land that burned during the 2003 wildfires, which torched nearly 380,000 acres in San Diego County.
U.S. Geological Survey researchers looked at 38 types of lizards, snakes and salamanders, comparing their populations before the fires to their numbers afterward. These animals serve as indicators of a "healthy, diverse system," and as food sources for birds and larger reptiles said Carlton Rochester, the lead author of the study and a biologist with the survey.