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Research article2007Peer reviewed

Effects of low severity burning after clear-cutting on mid-boreal ant communities in the two years after fire

Gibb H, Hjalten J


Fire is important in maintaining a diversity of communities and landscapes in boreal ecosystems, but, in recent times, forest management has suppressed fires. Managers now commonly burn a proportion of clear-cuts in Sweden to conserve components of the fire-favoured fauna, but effects of these treatments on the ant fauna are unknown. We compared ant communities between burned and control clear-cuts to determine their value for this important faunal group. Ants were collected in 1995 and 1996 from 5 burned and 5 control clear-cuts in mid-boreal Sweden. We compared abundances of workers and reproductive females of common species between the treatments. Burned and control clear-cuts supported similar abundances of common species, differing only in the abundance of Leptothorax acervorum queens collected in 1995. This suggests that L. acervorum was attracted to the burning, but we did not detect an increase in the abundance of its workers the following year. The abundance of dominant red wood ants (E rufa group) was not correlated with that of any other species, suggesting that their patchy occurrence did not conceal differences between treatments. Our findings suggest that nests of many ant species survive low severity fires. Habitat structure is likely to be important in determining ant community structure and low severity burning in disturbed open habitats, such as the clear-cuts examined in this study, may not significantly alter habitat structure relative to unburned habitats in the short term

Published in

Journal of Insect Conservation
2007, Volume: 11, number: 2, pages: 169-175
Publisher: SPRINGER