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1 September 2017 Arthropods and Fire: Previous Research Shaping Future Conservation
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Abstract
Fire is a natural process in grasslands that maintains an open canopy and creates variable vegetative structure and composition over time. Although there is a wealth of knowledge on plant and avian responses to fire in the Great Plains, there are few generalizations for arthropods. We conducted a literature review to synthesize research on arthropod responses to fire in the Great Plains to offer more insights to land managers, policy makers, and researchers. Overall, we found that there was variation in how arthropod communities responded to fire; metrics of both abundance and diversity were found to respond positively, negatively, or not at all. We then delved into two potential factors that might help us understand this important variation. First, we looked for effects from the amount of time since fire. Although much of the literature focused on arthropod responses to burning in the first 6 mo after fire, there were still both positive and negative results regardless of timeframe. We also hypothesized that taxonomy may provide insights and found that some orders tended to respond negatively (Araneae, Lepidoptera) or positively (Coleoptera, Orthoptera) to fire; however, responses were still variable and likely dependent on additional factors. To help enable managers to make better decisions about fire application, we used the literature to identify three traits—mobility, life stage, and feeding guild—that can predict responses to fire at a species level when research is lacking. Management recommendations vary on a species-by-species basis, but available research suggests that arthropod communities do not simply respond negatively to fire. Knowledge gaps remain concerning the origin of those community responses, particularly in terms of individual species' responses and specific mechanisms that allow individuals to persist after fire. Future research should focus on theoretical and applied basis for arthropod conservation using prescribed fire.
© 2017 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Katherine C. Kral, Ryan F. Limb, Jason P. Harmon and Torre J. Hovick "Arthropods and Fire: Previous Research Shaping Future Conservation ," Rangeland Ecology and Management 70(5), (1 September 2017). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2017.03.006
Received: 5 January 2017; Accepted: 1 March 2017; Published: 1 September 2017
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