An Analysis of the Effects of a Wildfire on the Biodiversity of Wildlife in Southern Arizona

Part of the Young Naturalist Awards Curriculum Collection.

by Meagan, Grade 9,  Arizona - 2012 YNA Winner

Statement of the Problem

Wildfires burned more than 1 million acres of Arizona forest and grassland during the summer of 2011. Arizona fires reported to the Southwest Coordination Center on August 31, 2011 destroyed 1,008,753 acres, including the Wallow Fire (538,049 acres), the Horseshoe 2 Fire (222,954 acres), the Complex Fire (68,079 acres), and the Monument Fire (30,526 acres) (Arizona Star, 5 Sept 2011).

burnt tree

The problem of wildfires is not unique to southern Arizona in the summer of 2011. Murray (2011) reported that six states were also ravaged by wildfires. Neighboring New Mexico faced a fire that closed in on the nuclear facility at Los Alamos as 1,098,186 acres burned. Two California blazes forced evacuations and corralled wildlife in the San Bernardino National Forest (Associated Press, 24 Aug 2011). In Texas, more than 3.5 million acres burned as 14 large fires were fought, according to the Texas Forest Service. The National Interagency Fire Center said significant fires were “above normal” through the end of September 2011 in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia. All of these fires are evidence of the need to study the short- and long-term effects of wildfires.

The first major summer wildfire in southern Arizona was in the Tumacacori Mountains on May 30, 2011. On June 7 this fire joined with the Pajarita Fire to the southwest; the two were renamed the Complex Fire. Although great concern was shown for the artist town of Tubac, four miles away, little was said about native wildlife in imminent danger. The Complex Fire was finally contained after destroying 68,078 acres of natural forest.

The Sonoran Desert is rich with animal life, supporting species that are unique to this part of the world (Desert USA 2009), so wildfires are especially concerning. Spanning southwest Arizona and northern Mexico, the Sonoran Desert is home to species that in some cases are only recently documented, such as the ocelot and the jaguar.

mountain lion

Knowledge of the native species of the southwestern United States is vital to its protection and survival (Nature Conservancy 2009). Peterson (2011) reported that following the fires, volunteers worked with Coronado Park rangers to replace agaves, a main source of life for a “keystone species, the lesser long-nose bat.” The Phoenix Zoo gave an endangered species of red squirrels sanctuary in an attempt to keep four of the remaining 214 Mount Graham squirrels known to exist alive (Associated Press, 5 August 2011). Wildlife biologists at the Sky Island Alliance expressed concern for the recently documented ocelots and jaguars in the area of the fires (Lamberton 2011). Beal (19 July 2011) reported on the loss near Ramsey Canyon, stating that ecotourism businesses in the fire-damaged areas had suffered due to the effect on birding. When an area is ravaged by fire and the birds do not reappear, tourists don’t come back either. Protection of a species can also serve as protection for humans.

Both human-caused and naturally caused wildfires are known to have devastating effects. However, little has been published concerning the wildlife species affected as a result of Arizona wildfires in the summer of 2011. Using photos from remote-sensing cameras, this project will determine the longitudinal effects of one of those wildfires on the species that resided in the area.

Null Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: Species Identified Pre- and Post-Wildfire

There will be no difference in the wildlife species identified in the defined wildfire area when comparing pre-wildfire photos to post-wildfire photos.

Rationale: The rationale behind this hypothesis is to examine whether any species were forcibly displaced after the wildfire, or appeared for the first time in an area where they had not been observed before the fire; and to examine the rate at which each species returns.

Hypothesis 2: A Comparison of Species Sighted Pre- and Post-Wildfire in the Control Area Compared to the Wildfire Area

There will be no difference in the frequency (number of sightings) of each species either before or following a wildfire when comparing the Control location to the Wildfire location.

Rationale: The rationale behind this hypothesis is that by examining the percentage of each species observed before and after the wildfire as compared to a control area, it may be possible to determine whether species left the fire area at a higher rate than the control area, and whether natural migrations or naturally occurring factors could be the cause of the changes in population numbers.


On May 29, 2011, a wildfire ignited in the Coronado National Forest and became known as the Complex Fire. This researcher already had four remote-sensing cameras monitoring species in a nearby mountain range in Cochise County that was unaffected by the fire. This became the Control site. Access was gained to four cameras in an area known as the Ruby site, which was located in the midst of the fire. Two cameras per site were matched and selected for this study based on comparable attributes of elevation, proximity to a water source, distance, etc. Changes in biodiversity were then examined for the 148 days prior to the start of the fire and the 17 days after the fire, and compared to data for the 148 days following the fire, for a total of 313 days in the study. Pre- and post-fire results from the Ruby site were compared to results from the Control location. 

Procedure for the Control Site

  1. meagan-ruler-on-ground
    Permission was requested from a local conservation organization for extended placement of a personal remote-sensing camera and continued adoption of additional remote-sensing cameras in the control region. Cameras were placed near corridors that species frequently travel, which were identified using tracking and scat identification.
  2. A maintenance refresher on the operation of cameras was attended. The steps of opening the locks, checking the camera batteries, removing the film disk, replacing it, and repositioning the camera correctly were observed and preformed successfully under supervision before beginning. Refresher workshops to update tracking and scat identification skills to confirm possible sightings were attended throughout the study.
  3. Accessing the cameras required a 90-minute drive into the area, a 45-minute drive over difficult terrain to the base of the canyon area, followed by an 80-minute hike into the area in order to collect data from the cameras. This trip was completed approximately once a month for the duration of the project.
  4. meagan-in-tree
    Cameras were located in scrub range and high desert that changed from visit to visit, depending on the season and conditions; therefore, trailhead and topographical maps on which the coordinates were plotted were of assistance. It was necessary to learn how to distinguish between types of trees (mesquite, ironwood, etc.) in order to find the cameras.
  5. Upon reaching the remote locations for each camera each time, a series of steps were followed. The battery life in each camera was monitored, a check was made to determine if data had been downloaded from the camera onto a memory card, the memory card was removed and replaced with another card, the time and date stamp were confirmed as accurate, and general adjustments were made to each camera’s situation and how it was secured to each tree. 
  6. meagan-wolf-spider-nest
    Wolf spider nest
    Conditions for each visit varied. For example, wolf spiders and other insects were found residing inside the camera more than once when removing a memory card. There was evidence of hunters and hikers, as well as photos of the Border Patrol on the trail of some humans. Groups of people were target-shooting against the walls of the canyon and in the area immediately surrounding the cameras, so caution was required. Dehydration was a continuous problem since temperatures were in the low 30’s in winter but rose to 115 degrees in summer. Tires were continually worn and replaced when cameras became more difficult to reach during after the fires and floods. Each of these factored into the study.
  7. The process of analyzing photos at the Control Site was as follows: Approximately 2,000 photos from each camera were analyzed and categorized by species and their numbers in each photo. Photos triggered by waving grasses, wind, etc. were rejected.
  • The scientific name of each species (for example, Felis concolor for mountain lion), the camera site, and date and time of each photo were recorded. 
  • All information was then entered into an Excel spreadsheet for comparison and analysis. All data from this site later had to be “renamed,” meaning it had to be put in the exact order and format to match the data for the Experimental site.
  • If there was a question about the species captured in a photo, a three-person method of consensus was used. Three people trained in species identification viewed the photos, and when two people definitely agreed, that species identification was assigned.
  • The files for the Control site were transferred into a format suitable to input into a program for analysis with the Experimental site.
  • In order to reduce counting the same animal repeatedly, the program used only photos depicting the same species after a 60-minute interval. 

Procedure for the Experimental Site

  1. Four remote-sensing cameras had been placed by a local conservation organization at four sites in the Tumacacori Mountains, which is in area of the Complex Fire. Two camera sites that matched conditions in the Control site were chosen for use and analysis.
  2. Permission was requested for access to the memory card photos and data from the cameras for the 148 days before the fire, the 17 days of the fire, and the 148 days following the Complex Fire, for a total of 313 days.
  3. Using the Automatic Storage and Analysis of Camera Trap Data (ASACTD) technique, photos were analyzed and categorized by what was in each photo and how many species were there.
  4. The process of photo analysis at the Experimental site was as follows:
  • Approximately 3,000 images were downloaded from the total in the memory cards and saved to a desktop folder. Photos triggered by waving grasses, wind, etc. were rejected.
  • Using the freeware program “ReNamer,” all files were simultaneously renamed in a folder called Location01Temp with the date and time from each picture.
  • All files were uniquely labeled by date and time (multiple images from the same location cannot be recorded at precisely the same time). Any possibility of overwriting was prevented.
  • Each of these photos was placed in a date-time-image folder and then placed in the permanent “Location 01Species/Number of individuals” folder.
  • Unlike the Control Site, a single DOS command was used to produce a systematically hierarchical text file list of all folders and file name location folders, making analysis immediate.
  • In order to reduce counting the same animal repeatedly, the program uses only those photos depicting a species after a 60-minute interval.

The data output was analyzed and the results compared for pre- versus post-wildfire and for Control versus Fire locations. A comparative analysis of the types of species appearing and their numbers was conducted. In order to examine rates of recovery, longitudinal data was examined, in particular for those species that appeared after the fire when they had never been at a site previously, or were there prior to the fire but never returned in the months following. Wide fluctuations or increases were noted. Please see the Data Analysis section. 

Operational Definitions

General location: Tumacacori Highlands and Mountain Range. Cameras at 4,000 ft.The highlands have the Tumacacori Mountains to the north and the Sierra La Esmeralda range south of the U.S.–Mexico border.

Control site: Whetstone Mountain Range.Cameras at 4,200 ft.The Whetstone Mountains are a mountain range in southeastern Arizona. Major ranges in the region are called the Maderan Sky Islands.

Complex Fire: 31.54 latitude, -111.158 longitude. A human-caused wildfire that began five miles east of Arivaca and four miles west of Tubac, AZ, with 68,078 acres burned. On June 7, the Pajarita Fire combined with the Murphy Fire to form the Complex Fire, and continued to burn.

Pre-wildfire: For the purpose of this study, pre-wildfire will be defined as the 148-day period of time in which images were captured, from January to May 30, 2011.

Post-wildfire: For the purpose of this study, post-wildfire will be defined as the 17-day period of time from May 30 to the fire end-date of June 15, 2011.

Corridors: Corridors will be defined as pathways through the area that species tend to travel along for a variety of reasons. Usually a corridor is in a low area between two higher rises. However, a species may choose to travel a corridor that is an “easy” natural path, or to avoid human populations, or to seek available prey in a particular area.

Recovery: For the purpose of this study, recovery is defined as how quickly a species returns to an area over time.

Territory: For the purpose of this research, territory is defined as the ground a species covers and resides in. Species that are territorial tend to travel the same paths and stay in the same locations unless something disrupts them.

Wildlife linkages: For the purpose of this study, linkages are defined synonymously with corridors.

Biodiversity: The biodiversity of an area is defined as all species that inhabit that area–both plants and animals. For the purposes of this research, biodiversity will be measured only by the animal species that reside in the area.


Nocturnal: Animals that generally sleep during the day and travel or move about at night are considered nocturnal.

Sample population: A sample population is defined as the total group of animals that was observed in this study.

Sky islands: Sky islands are defined as islands that arose as geographical formations. Because of their island-like formation, they protect and support certain species particularly well.

Outliers: This is when a data point falls outside all the other data points. It can give a result that just does not fit in with the “usual” findings.

Habitat: Habitat is the total environmental area and surroundings in which a species lives.

Interior: In this study, interior locations are defined as places where a camera is far into an area, away from populated areas and far away from highly used paths and roads.

Camera trapping: Considered the most humane form of trapping by many, camera trapping is defined as taking a photo of something in order to learn about it rather than capturing it. This lessens stress for the animal. For this study, remote-sensing cameras will be the only type of camera trapping included in the operational definition.

Lure: A lure is a substance that is sometimes placed on a camera (usually the scent of a female or the urine of a prey animal) to get the attention of the animal walking by. Most research groups discourage this practice because it disrupts the natural order of things. However, if it was previously applied, the camera may still carry the scent.

Scat: Scat is a species fecal output. Scat helps researchers identify a species and verify the surrounding tracks.

Ground truthing: Ground truthing is defined as finding out if something is true, checking to see whether a statement or fact is accurate or not.

Coordinates: Coordinates in this study are defined as those used by any GPS device that tell a person where they can find something on a map and then help a person to find that same thing in real life. In this study they were used to facilitate locating the remote-sensing cameras.

Transect: A transect is defined as the place where two things cross each other. For example, in this study, when coordinates transected each other, that is where cameras could be located or where tracks could be observed.

Trophic levels: The trophic level of an organism is the position it holds in a food chain, from producer to consumer levels.

Species detection rate: This is defined by every month for every year for every site examined. It is determined by using the formula: 100 times the number of images taken of a species for a month divided by the number of days in the month for which that camera was active.

Naturally occurring differences: There are differences when comparing the Control location to the Wildfire location due to natural variations that existed before the wildfire; these will be controlled for. For example,some species occur only in one area compared to the other due to weather, vegetation altitude, topography and terrain.

Species activity patterns: This is defined as the pattern of appearance for each species during a set time or day throughout the study period.

Species accumulation curve: This is defined in the formula as the number of species over time.

Species richness: This is the number of specified species in a defined area useful for ecological examinations, such as relationships between precipitation, vegetation diversity, time, number of species, altitude, etc.

Wide-ranging species: These are species that can be found in a variety of areas within the Southwest. They are not specific to one location only.

Non-invasive techniques: These allow study of a species without greatly affecting their natural habits.

Data Analysis


The analysis of the data included an analysis of the type and frequency of species, an analysis of species accumulation patterns that measure which species are observed in each area, and a comparative overlay of the type and number of wildlife species observed at the Control site versus the Experimental site before and after the fire. 

A paired t-test was indicated for this study for examining the significance of the pre- and post-wildfire photos. The t-test was performed, and the P value for significance was determined to be 0.081 for the comparison of pre- and post-fire effects on biodiversity of the area when all species were combined.

There was a difference between the two Ruby site cameras when they were compared to each other. (This was not as much the case with the Control site cameras.) For example, in August at the Ruby site, Ruby Camera 1 recorded 301 individuals while Camera 2 only had 128. However, in March the two cameras were reversed, and Ruby 2 recorded 158 animals while Ruby 1 recorded 92. Ruby 1 had the widest fluctuations of all the cameras, while Control 1 had the least, fluctuating from 10 to 12 animals, while Ruby 1 fluctuated from 0 to 301 in August. Ruby 2, however, evened out over the three months. 

A chi-squared analysis of the data was performed revealing which species had similar activity patterns at the 95% level. Only those species that had 25 or more captured photos were considered, due to statistical restraints in comparisons with an N of less than that. At Ruby 1 there were no significant similarities found. This was primarily due to the lack of N’s over 25 for any species. At Ruby 2, there were some significant activity patterns. The gray fox’s activity pattern was determined to have a significant similarity with the javelina’s and puma’s. The javelina’s activity pattern had a significant similarity with that of the puma.

Pre- and Post-Fire Data Analysis by Percentage of Species: Ruby Site

An analysis of the data reveals that the species that increased the most after the fire was deer, going to 38% from 10%. Also increasing were cottontail rabbits and javelina, both increasing to 9% from 2%. Species that stayed the same were the puma, at 4%, coyote at 1% and skunk at 1%. The species that declined after the fire was humans, to 32% from 57%. The gray fox declined to 3% from 13%. Humans on horseback also declined. Species that never returned after the fire were turkey and bobcat (down from 2%). Species that appeared for the first time after the fire were cattle.


Two pie charts showing pre- and post-fire population percentages for various species at the control site.
Pre- and Post-Fire Data Analysis by Percentage of Species: Control Site

An analysis of the data reveals that the species that increased the most after the fire was deer, which increased to 12% from 4%. The gray fox increased to 11% from 5%.  Humans declined from 73% to 62% during the time of this project. The puma declined to 4% from 9%. The bobcat declined as well, to 2% from 5%. The domestic dog declined to 1% from 4% following the fire. No species stayed the same, unlike the Ruby site. Also unlike the Ruby site, there were only six species present before the fire while 12 species appeared after the fire. Species that were observed following the fire but not before were javelina, mouse, squirrel, and bird, at 1% each. Coati and cottontail rabbit species appeared at the 2% level.

Analysis by Consumer Level (Predator/Prey)

Before the wildfire, the number of predators fluctuated at approximately the same rate as their prey. There is a relationship because as prey numbers go up, predator populations rise as well. During the 17 days of the fire, both predator and prey species declined to 0 species observed. However, following the fire, this pattern was broken. The predator populations remained approximately the same while prey numbers went up dramatically. The peak of that difference was in mid-August, when predators were at six individuals and prey animals were at 265 individuals. By mid-October the prey declined and returned to a level approximately equal to the numbers observed before the fire.


Conclusion 1

Hypothesis 1—Identified Species Pre- and Post-Wildfire—must be REJECTED.

“There will be no difference in the wildlife species identified in the defined wildfire area when comparing pre-wildfire photos to post-wildfire photos.”


There were differences in the wildlife species identified in the defined fire area when comparing pre-wildfire photos to post-wildfire photos. There were several species that were present before the fire that did not reappear for several months following the fire. For example, the gray fox followed the pattern of being present in 13% of photos before the fire and declined significantly to 3% in the months following the fire. Human presence also dropped from 57% to 32%.

Some species appeared in the area in high numbers following the fire although they were not  observed in the months before the fire in such great numbers. For example, deer were camera-trapped in the months before the fire in 10% of the photos. After the fire, their numbers significantly increased, to 38% of photos. Cottontail rabbit and javelina increased to 9% from 2% as well.

There was a difference in the rate of reappearance and recovery for each type of species when comparing pre-wildfire photos to post-wildfire photos. Several species returned rather quickly while others were slow to return or did not seem to return at all. For example, bobcats and turkeys were present before the fire in 2% of the photos and never returned following the fire. Cattle (1%) appeared after never being observed previously.

Conclusion 2

Hypothesis 2—Comparison of Species Sighted Pre- and Post-Wildfire in a Control Area Versus a Wildfire Area—must be REJECTED.

There will be no difference in the frequency (number of sightings) of each species either before or after a wildfire when comparing the Control location to the Wildfire location. 

There was a difference in the frequency (number of sightings) of several species before and after a wildfire when comparing the Control location to the Wildfire location. For example, in the Control location there was very little fluctuation in the number of species before and following the fire. However, in the Fire location, there were several species that had wide fluctuations in numbers.

Broken down as predator and prey animals, the Control location followed the same trend, with very little variation for almost the entire study. The Fire location follows that trend up to the fire; then there are dramatic differences in the range of species observed. For example, in August predators were at one of their lowest observed points, at six individuals, while prey peaked at 265 individuals. 


There are clear implications for further thought and research provided by this study.

  • Based on the results, it is clear that there need to be more studies of the effect of wildfires on the biodiversity of the Southwest in order to increase levels of protection. Species that are endangered, such as the ocelot and jaguar, which were not previously thought to be in southern Arizona, are now known to exist in the regions affected by wildfires (Davis and Stellar 2010; Kreutz 2011). Since, as the data suggests, fires disrupt all wildlife populations, it is imperative that more protection be offered to these already limited populations so they have a chance to survive and recover if their natural habitats are disturbed by fire. Longitudinal data from future years—and increased baseline data from previous years—will assist in determining whether fires have only an immediate effect or a longer-term one.
  • Wildfires, whether human- or naturally caused, are increasing due to less rain and climate change. Drought in the Southwest has always been a common occurrence, but the conditions seem to be worsening (Arizona Game and Fish 2012). Fire is a factor that humans cannot fully control. However, although we cannot control all fires, we can prepare for them in order to prevent massive, long-term disruption to species. Prevention and public information is key. The human element of humans crossing the border through remote areas where fires can go undetected for hours adds to the danger. Since fires affect not only the natural environment but also homes, livestock, tourism and investments (Beal 2011), it is imperative that further study be conducted on how to prevent and control them, quickly and inexpensively.
  • Wildfires can destroy entire ecosystems over the course of a few short weeks. Entire species are displaced, and their offspring may never recover in numbers comparable to before the fire and the ensuing floods (Christe 2011). This may be the case for the two species that never returned following the fire: the turkey, which is already endangered in the sky island region of the Southwest, and the bobcat. It will be interesting to see whether either of these species eventually returns.
  • Wildfire affects the ecosystem of an area. As it collapses, there are long-term effects that may take years to recover from, if ever. For example, if the population of predators such as puma declines, their prey, such as deer, can grow out of control. This was the case in this study, as deer at the Ruby site increased to 38% from 10% of observed species. When a fire occurs, species that had previously roamed that area are now limited to other areas, which can either become overgrazed or become less suitable for offspring. Water sources, appropriate grasses and safe habitat for young may all be less available. When a species overgrazes, it strips the land of important nutrients, which makes re-growth more difficult and the floods that follow the wildfire more devastating.
  • Based on my results, it is clear that there are implications for further research concerning the biodiversity of species in the Southwest and the impact of wildfires on these species. Increased funding and interest in counting the species that currently inhabit the sky islands are essential. Since remote-sensing cameras are relatively inexpensive, it would be interesting to increase the number of cameras spread across the region in order to capture more data. There is a clear call for further study that is longitudinal and covers more of the important wildlife corridors in remote areas.
  • The economic impact of wildfires on people’s well-being and employment is profound. Ecotourism often struggles to come back after a fire (Beal 2011). The cost of human displacement and assistance due to wildfires is of concern to everyone since it requires the already stretched resources of the state. Taxes to support recovery after fires affect everyone.
  • The fires and their effect on wildlife in the Southwest have an impact on hikers, tourists, nature lovers and all those who may visit the area. This study has implications not just for wildlife, but for future generations of humans as well. 


Any conclusions based on the results of this project are limited. The following factors must be taken into account when generalizing results to other populations and areas:

  • The results of this project are limited to the specific wildfire location that was chosen for study. Had a different wildfire location been chosen in another part of southern Arizona, or in another part of the state or nation, it would have different wildlife, vegetation, weather patterns and geographic features, and the results would vary.
  • Although the control site in the Whetstone Mountains was not in the direct line of a wildfire, the cameras may have been close enough to be indirectly affected by fires such as the Monument Fire. In other words, the control site may not have been a control at all, but rather another experimental site, and this would limit the use of the results. 
  • There are naturally occurring differences between the Control location and the Wildfire location that existed before the wildfire. Although the differences were examined and controlled for during the site-selection process so that they matched as much as possible, this may explain some differences.
  • The results of this study are limited in that the effects of a wildfire at a particular time of the year were studied. A similar study might have different results if it were done in a different year or over the course of several years. 
  • The results of this study are for one year only. Some species may not recover as quickly as others and could still bounce back; on the other hand, there could be dramatic negative effects on future generations that still unknown or not detected.
  • Remote-sensing cameras do not “catch” everything that walks by. Sometimes a creature is just too fast, or the lighting/flash is not sufficiently bright to capture the species moving past. This can reduce reliability of the results. Each remote-sensing camera had slight individual differences in timing, accuracy, range and sensitivity, making any comparison slightly less that 100% accurate.
  • Other variables may have affected the cameras. For example, several cameras had caterpillars and wolf spiders residing inside of them. Lizards were often found sitting on top the cameras. Although all the cameras were working, these were variables that could not be controlled for and may have affected results.
  • The placement of each remote-sensing camera makes a difference in the results. For example, if a camera happens to be near a particular species’ den, it will record more photos. Picking a tree just 10 feet away may make a big difference in what the camera traps.
  • The results of this study were limited by my ability to identify the species captured by a remote-sensing camera when the photos are analyzed. There were photos in which there was nothing to find, or when the species identification was not positive. At times like these, a “panel of three” was used to confirm the decision; however, this uncertainty limits the project.
  • The results of the study are limited because other variables may have played a part in the results. For example, did hunters or hikers reduce the number of species that were caught on film? This is something that cannot be ruled out, so the conclusions cannot be generalized to all other situations. 
  • Normally occurring patterns such as mating, migration through an area or seasonal birthing could have affected when numbers of a species increased dramatically, and could account for variations between species’ populations at the same site and when comparing sites.


  • ASACTD, or Automatic Storage and Analysis of Camera Trap Data System: This newly developed system of collecting, storing and analyzing data was published in July 2010 and was used in this study.
  • ezembed
  • meagan-remote-sensing-camera
    Remote-sensing camera
    Remote-sensing cameras: One per location selected by the Sky Island Alliance so that the biodiversity of fauna could be observed and analyzed without disturbing the ecosystem.
  • Batteries: Four D and four AA batteries per camera, per month to replace in cameras.
  • SanDisk SD Cardswith 2 GB each and Q Memory Cards with 2 GB to replace when checking cameras and exchanging cards.
  • Map resources: HabiMap web site, RainSource web site and National Park maps described current fire conditions, the areas involved or affected, and the mitigating factors/conditions that exist in each area.
  • Topographical map: To help establish the type of terrain that must be crossed to reach the remote-sensing cameras and to plan route.
  • Trailhead map for southern Arizona: Used to identify established trails as long as possible before going off-trail to reach cameras.
  • GPS positioning system: To help find coordinates for camera locations.
  • Coordinates: Longitude and latitude used to specifically locate each camera and trailhead and to mark the location of scat, tracks, etc.
  • Rulers and tracking bi-ruler: Used to add measurement perspective when taking photographs of tracks, scat or terrain.
  • Tracking and scat quick identification sheet: Used when trying to determine which species left tracks, picture of tracks, typical gait patterns of species.
  • Emergency supplies: Small emergency items such as Band-Aids, tweezers for removal of cactus spines, a whistle and water bottles.
  • Transportation: Car with four-wheel drive and high clearance to get to the remote locations of the cameras with a driver.
  • Personal camera/phone camera: To record various species’ tracks and scat for later examination.
  • Binoculars: To see in the distance when locating cameras and for species sightings.
  • Calculator/watch: To determine size and distances, convert from metric, keep track of time, and record the time of an observation.  


Arizona Daily Star Wire and Staff Reports (2011). “Monument Fire reined in with 85% containment” Arizona Daily Star, June 27, 2011.

The Associated Press (2011) “Red Squirrels threatened by fires given sanctuary” Arizona Daily Star, July 25, 2011, p. A 2.

The Associated Press, “Two California blazes forced evacuations, snarl traffic as weather heats up.” Arizona Daily Star, August 24, 2011, p. A11.

The Associated Press (2011). “Wildfire near Williams tops 3,700 acres”, Arizona Daily Star, August 14, 2011, p. B5.

Associated Press, Staff ABC15 (2011).  “Fire near Sierra Vista burns, damages homes.” Wire report printed on

Associated Press (2011). “Agriculture secretary tours Southwest wildfires” Arizona Capitol Times, June 230, 2011.

Associated Press (2011). “Los Alamos fire advancing on stored nuke waste drums”, Los Alamos, NM. June 29, 2011.

Avila, Sergio.  (2009)  “Using Remote Sensing Camera to Inform and Promote Wildlife Conservation”, Sky Island Alliance, Restoring Connections, Winter/Fall 2009, Vol.12, Issue 3, pg 17.

Avila, Sergio. (2009) “Northern Mexico Conservation Program: More than a cat project”, Sky Island Alliance, Restoring Connections, Spring 2009, Vol.12, Issue 1, pg 18.

Avila, Sergio. (2009) “Learning from Macho B – Jaguars can thrive in Arizona if we act now”, Arizona Daily Star Guest Opinion, April 27, 2009.

Avila, Sergio. (2009) “Northern Mexico Conservation Program: More than a cat project”, Sky Island Alliance, Restoring Connections, Spring 2009, Vol.12, Issue 1, pg 18.

Bartlett, Greg. (2009)  “Tracking and Researching Mountain Lions” Rocking Mountain Tracking, July 10, 2009

Barrett, Jalma. Cougar. Blackbirch Press, Inc.  Woodridge, CN, 1999.

Beal, Tom (2011). “Arizona Fires in 2011 have burned 1 million + acres”, Arizona Daily Star, September 5, 2011, p. A1, 4.

Beal, Tom (2011). “Inundated by worry: Watershed damage in Huachucas leaves many homes vulnerable to flooding”, Arizona Daily Star, July 28, 2011, A1, 4.

Beal, Tom (2011). “Ecotourism sector struggles for comeback after fires’ fury” Arizona Daily Star, July 19, 2011, p. A1, A4.

Beal, Tom (2011) “Fire strategy helped save two towns” Arizona Daily Star, August 14, 2011, p. A 1, 4

Beal, Tom (2011). “Fire season’s ill winds blow no good”, Arizona Daily Star, July 3, 2011.

Beal, Tom (2011). “Mountains themselves seem to be on the move”, Arizona Daily Star, July 14, 2011.

Beal, Tom, Echavarri, F, and McCombs, B. (2011) “Sierra Vista Fire: Burnout operation set for tonight” Arizona Daily Star, Posted June 20, 2011 6:15 PM.

Beal, Tom (2011) “Chiricahuas blaze is now contained” Arizona Daily Star, Posted June 26, 2011, 12:00 AM.

Beul, Bobbie (2011) “Money well spent on forest, wildfire management.” Arizona Daily Star, August 24, 2011, p. A 11.

Chaudhary, V.B., L.L. Walters, J.D. Bever, J.d. Hoeksema, and G.W.T. Wilson. (2010). Advancing synthetic ecology: a database system to facilitate complex ecological meta-analysis. ESA Bulletin, 91 (2): 235-243.

Christe, Bob (2011). “Officials: Wildfires will blaze until rain season” Times Union, Phoenix AP., June 23, 2011.

Christe, Bob (2011).  “Effects of devastating fires open land to flood threat” Arizona Daily Star, July 6, 2011.

Cooley, Hilary; Robinson, Hugh; Wielgus, Robert; Lambert, Catherine. (2008)  “Cougar Prey Selection in a White Tailed Deer and Mule Community”, The Journal of Wildlife Management, Volume72, Issue 1, pg. 99-106.

Culver, Melanie, Thompson, Ron. (2009)  “Connecting Wild Habitats in the U.S. – Mexico Borderlands, Wild Field Monitor, Summer 2009, Volume 2, Issue 2, pg. 1.

Davenport, Paul (2011). “McCain defends remarks about illegal entrants, fires”, Arizona Daily Star, August 26, 2011, p. A5.

Davis, Tony; Kreutz, D and Steller, T (2011). “Fire near Sierra Vista grows to nearly 21,000 acres” Arizona Daily Star, June 18, 2011 5:45 PM.

Davis, Tony (2010). “New Permit Allows Jaguar Capture” Arizona Daily Star, June 27, 2010.

Davis, Tony (2010). “In Reversal, Feds Support Jaguar’s Habitat, Recovery”, Arizona Daily Star, January 13, 2010.

Davis, Tony.  “Jaguar: Tracking Data Hard to Come By From Game and Fish”, Arizona Daily Star, October 18, 2009.

Davis Tony. (2009) “Did Macho B Have to Die/” Arizona Daily Star, March 29, 2009.

Davis, Tony.  (2009)  “$8.2 million Oracle Road wildlife path OK’d”, Arizona Daily Star, December 11, 2009, pg. 1, 7.

Davis, Tony and Volante, Enric. (2006) “How close do mountain lions come to you?” Arizona Daily Star, July 16, 2006.

Dell Amore, Christian. (2009) “First Jaguar Caught in U.S. Put to Sleep. National Geographic, March 3, 2009.

Fischer, Howard (2011) “Fires’ size blamed on environmentalists” Arizona Daily Star, July 6, 2011.

Gibeau, Michael and McTavish, Cam. (2009)  “Not So Candid Cameras”, The Wildlife Professional Society,  Fall 2009, pg. 35-37.

Hansen, Kevin. Cougar: The American Lion.  Northland Publishing Co, Flagstaff, AZ, 1992.

Harris, Grant; Childs, Jack; Sanderson, James (200). “Emerging Technologies: Automatic Storage and Analysis of Camera Trap Data”,  Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, July 2010.

Haynes, Lisa, Lamberton, Melissa, Culver, Melanie. (2009)  “Mountain Lions and Bobcats of Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain District:  Monitoring Population Status and Landscape Connectivity”, Final Report –October 2009, University of Arizona Wild Cat Research and Conservation, School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

Haynes, Lisa. (2009) “Wild Fields in the Midst of Rampant Urban Growth: Mountain Lions and Bobcats in Tucson Arizona”, Wild Field Monitor, Summer 2008, Vol. 1, Issue 2, page 14-15.

Haynes, Lisa; Hackl, Zoe and Culver, Melanie. (2005)  “Wild cats of the Sky Island: A summary of monitoring efforts using noninvasive techniques” USDA Forest Service Proceedings, RMRS-P 36. pg 185 – 188.

Kreutz, Doug (2011)  “Ravaged areas bursting back to life”, Arizona Daily Star, September 3, 2011, p. A1, 4.

Kreutz, Doug (2011). “Burned-over park starts comeback”, Arizona Daily Star, July 27, 2011, A1, A5.

Kreutz, Doug (2011). “Huachuca Mountains camera gets shot of rare ocelot”, Arizona Daily Star, July 8, 2011.

Kreutz, Doug (2010). “There’s Plenty to Learn About Sky Island Cats”, Arizona Daily Star, August 10, 2010.

McCall, Karen and Dutcher, Jim. Cougar: Ghost of the Rockies. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, CA, 1992.

Lamberton, Jessica; Avila, Sergio; and Morris, Kenneth (2011). “Where Jaguar and black bear Meet: Tracking Pathway of Temperate and Tropical species in an international Sky Island Corridor”  Sky Island Alliance, Publication date TBA.

Lamberton, Ken. (2007)  “Highland of the Jaguars”. Art in the Wilderness, Sky Island Alliance, Tucson, AZ, 2007, pg. 30-39.

Leibach, Julie (2010). “Live ocelot Caught on Camera in Southern Arizona”, Audubon Magazine, April 22, 2010.

Los Angeles times as reported in the Arizona Daily Star (2011). “Tony Con. Town appears edgy over sightings of mountain lions: Arizona Daily Star, August 16, 2011, A14.

McCain, Emid, Brun, Janay, and Childs, Anna Mary. (2009)  “Arizona Jaguar Roams North of the U.S./ Mexico Border Fence” Wild Field Monitor, Winter  2009, Vol. 2, Issue 1, pg. 18.

McCain, Emil B. and Childs, Jack L. (2008)  “Evidence of Resident Jagauars (Pantera onca) in the Southwestern United States and the Implications for Conservation, American Society of Mammalogists, Volume 89, Number 1, Feb. 2008, pg. 1 – 11.

McCombs, Brady; Dalenberg, A.; Younger, J, and Steller, T. (2011) “Sierra Vista Fire: Crews plan overnight intentional burns” Arizona Daily Star, Posted June 16, 2011 5:45 PM.

Ottfried, Gerald; Ffolliott, Peter; Gebow, Brooke; Danzer, Shelly; Arriaga, Laura; Neary, Daniel; Van Devender, Thomas. (2005)  “Biodiversity and Managemtn of the Madean Archipelagao II: Summary of Discussion During the Concluding Session”  USDA Forest Service Proceedings, pg 1-6.

Murray, Michael (2011). “Wildfires Ravage 6 states: Arizona, Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado and Georgia” ABC News, June 20, 2011.

Nabhan, Gary Paul. (2009) “Biodiversity: The variety of life that sustains our own”, From a Natural History of the Sonoran Desert, Desert Museum Books

National Interagency Fire Center (2011) “Wildland Fire in National Parks”, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Idaho.

National Park Service. (2007). “Tumacacori National Historic Park: Burning brush piles reduces wildfire hazards near homes”, Fire and Aviation Management, National Parks Service, 2007.

National Wildfire Coordination Group (2011). “Wildland Fire in the United States”, National Wildfire Coordiantion Group, Boise Idaho.

National Park Service (2011). “Coronado: Traveling and Hiking Safely in a Burned Landscape” US Department of the Interior, Coronado National Memorial.

Peterson, Jacob (2011). “Fire-cold damaged agaves replaced near border”, Arizona Daily Star, August 29, 2011, p. A2.

Przbyl, Janice. (2009)”, Protecting our a Mountain Islands and Desert Seas: Sky Island Alliance Program News, Sky Island Alliance, Restoring Connections, Winter/Fall 2009, Vol.12, Issue 3, pg 4.

Przbyl, Janice and Barclay, Charles. (2005)  “Using Remote Sensing Camera and Track Surveys to Assess  Movement though a Probable Wildlife Linkage Bisected by Two Major Highways” Road Ecology Centers, John Muir Institute of the Environment, Retrieved from http;//, 2005.

Rabanowitz, Alan (2010).  “Jaguars Don’t Live Here Anymore”, New York Times, January 24, 2010.

Ridder, Knight. (2004) “Mountain lion spotted near Tucson, AZ after hunt halted; Schools on alert” Arizona Daily Star, March, 2004

Schaller, George. (2007) A Naturalist and Other Beast: Tales from a Life in the Field. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, CA.

Schubert, DJ. (2009)  “Lion Mismanagement in Arizona”, Arizona Defense League of Arizona, December 8, 2009.

Shegal, Ujala (2011) “John McCain  Blames Arizona Fires on Illegal Immigrants”, Atlantic Monthly Group, The Atlantic Wire.

Sierra Vista Herald (2010).  “Camera Catches Ocelot Creeping Through County”. Sierra Vista Herald, April16, 2010.

Silver, Scott. (2004)  “Assessing jaguar abundance using remotely triggered cameras”, Wildlife Conservation Society,  December 2004, pg. 1-27.

Slater, Dashka. (1999)  “Signs of the WILD – tracking wolves and mountain-lions in Arizona”, The Sierra,  Sept 1999.

Steller, Tim. (2009)  “Jaguar Team Ceases Work Amid Disputes, Big Cats Death“, Arizona Daily Star,  October 18, 2009.

Thomas, Megan. (2009)  “Officials: Hiker encounter with mountain lion puts focus on safety”  Cronkite News Service, Oct, 30, 2009.

True, Alianor (2001). Wildfire: A reader. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Tucson Wildlife Center. (2011)  “Bobcat Chronicles: Ruby and Jac”, Tucson Wildlife Center Publication, 2011. 

University of Arizona Press (2011).  “Recovering from Wildfire”: A Guide for Arizona’s Forest Owners” University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Firewise Communities Cooperators, 08/02/2011. 

Wagner, Dennis and Radnovish, Connor (2011). “Arizona fires: At Monument Fire, more evacuations”, AZ Republic, June 16, 2011.

Warshall, Peter. (2007)  “The Madrean Sky Island Archipelago: A Planetary Overview”, The Office of Arid Lands Study, College of Agriculture, University of Arizona,  Tucson, AZ, pg 6 -18.

Whitford, Walter G. (1997)  “Desertification and animal biodiversity in the desert grassland of North America” US-EPA, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Academic Press