This study analyzes the effect of fire on the composition and abundance of ground beetles in Pinus nigra forests. We used pitfall traps to sample beetles in burned P. nigra forests in Catalonia (Spain). Since fire dramatically alters forest structure and composition and beetles follow vegetation changes, we expected drastic changes in beetle composition and abundance immediately after fire. Because P. nigra forests do not recover after fire, we also expected beetles in burned and unburned areas to differ along a chronosequence. Beetle abundance per plot increased in canopy-fire–burned areas, but per plot species richness, diversity, and dominance were not affected by fire. Species composition varied depending on fire intensity. Some species were associated with canopy fire and low vegetation cover. Other species were associated with shrub cover and time since fire. Finally, some species were not dependent on fire or vegetation cover. Beetle abundance in burned areas was independent of time since fire. This lack of medium-term convergence between burned and unburned P. nigra forests agrees with our second hypothesis. Given the increase in fire frequency and size in submediterranean areas and the observed slow recovery of beetle species, a decline in beetle diversity at a regional scale is expected.
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Vol. 15 • No. 4