The objective of this study was to determine if prescribed fire affects spider (Araneae) and carabid beetle (Carabidae) abundance, and whether the magnitude of this effect varies with time since fire. Within mixed conifer stands, nine understory fuels-reduction burns, ranging from <1 to 15 yr old, were compared with adjacent unburned sites. Pitfall traps were used to compare macroarthropod abundance over 5 mo. In total, 3,441 spiders in 24 families and >120 species, and 14,793 carabid beetles from 17 species, were identified from the samples. Seven spider families and five species of carabid beetles were abundant enough to be analyzed statistically. Four spider families were more abundant in unburned sites (Antrodiaetidae, Cybaeidae, Thomisidae and Linyphiidae) while three families were more numerous in burned sites (Lycosidae, Gnaphosidae and Dictynidae). Four of five carabid beetle species were more abundant in unburned sites [Pterostichus herculaneus Mannerheim, P. setosus Hatch, Scaphinotus rugiceps rugiceps (Horn) and Zacotus matthewsii LeConte]. There was no difference found for Omus cazieri van den Berghe. No differences in species richness or diversity (Simpson, Shannon-Wiener and Berger-Parker indices) were found for spiders or carabid beetles. Overall, the relationship between abundance and time since burning was weak, with marginal significance found only for Dictynidae and Gnaphosidae. We suggest that changes in foraging substrate, prey availability or microclimatic conditions since fire may have interacted with life history characteristics to influence the abundance of these organisms. Differences in fire intensities among years may have masked patterns in arthropod abundance associated with time since burning.
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