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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Wildfire yields a distinct turnover of the beetle community in a semi-natural pine forest in northern Sweden

Fredriksson, Emelie; Mugerwa Pettersson, Roger; Naalisvaara, Jorgen; Lofroth, Therese


Background Fires have been an important natural disturbance and pervasive evolutionary force in the boreal biome. Yet, fire suppression has made forest fires rare in the managed landscapes in Fennoscandia, causing significant habitat loss for saproxylic species such as polypores and insects. To better understand how the beetle community changes (species turnover) after a wildfire in a landscape with intense fire suppression, we monitored beetles with flight intercept traps the first 3 years as well as 12 years after a large wildfire in a national park in northern Sweden (a control/unburnt area was set up for the last year of sampling). Results Species composition changed significantly among all studied years with a continuous turnover of species following the wildfire. The indicator species analysis showed that year 1 post-fire was mostly associated with cambium consumers and also the pyrophilous speciesBatrisodes hubenthali. Year 2 was the most abundant and species-rich year, withTomicus piniperdaas the most important indicator species. The indicator species year 3 were mostly secondary successional species, fungivores, and predators and were characterized by lower species diversity. Year 12 had higher diversity compared with year 3 but lower species richness and abundance. A control area was established during year 12 post-fire, and our analyses showed that the control area and burned area differed in species composition suggesting that the beetle community needs longer than 12 years to recover even after a low-intensive ground fire. Conclusion The wildfire area hosted several red-listed and fire-dependent species suggesting that after a century of landscape-level fire suppression in a semi-natural area, the reintroduction of fire benefits rare and pyrophilous species and still impacts species composition after 12 years. This study implies that fire has long-lasting effects on high latitudes and that prescribed burning has the potential to benefit biodiversity over decades in these landscapes while also highlighting the value of considering the whole species community and not only monitoring abundance and richness to assess biodiversity after management actions.


Assemblage; Boreal; Coleoptera; Species composition; Conservation; Disturbance; Diversity; Fire suppression; Insects; Protected area; Saproxylic

Published in

Ecological processes
2020, Volume: 9, number: 1, article number: 44
Publisher: SPRINGER