We evaluated the effect of four different forest management techniques, unthinned control and three thinning intensities (light, light with gaps, and heavy thin), on arthropod abundance, diversity, and community structure as an indicator of ecological processes affecting other forest fauna. Ground-dwelling arthropods were collected during 2000–2001, with pitfall traps in June (warm-wet season) and August (hot-dry season) 5 yr after a thinning treatment in 40- to 60-yr-old Douglas fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] trees in the Willamette National Forest. We found arthropod abundance and diversity was higher in heavy and light/gap thinning treatments than the other treatments. Additionally, four groups (ants, spiders, camel-crickets, and millipedes) preferred the more intense thinning treatment areas. The abundance of carabids, the third most abundant group, was higher at the unthinned control than any thinning treatment during the wet season, but not during the dry season. Although the immediate disturbance associated with thinning might be expected to decrease population density of fauna such as ground beetles, we hypothesized that the principal effect of thinning was to increase habitat heterogeneity in these uniform plantations and indirectly increase species richness and abundance of soil-dwellers. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMS) of overall arthropod community composition revealed that both seasonality and thinning were highly significant, resulting in four separate clusters of points, with season dominating thinning. Both variables were correlated with litter moisture. The NMS results indicated that ants preferred heavy thinning intensity. Spiders, carabids, and millipedes were positively associated with litter moisture, and camel-crickets were negatively associated with litter moisture. Overall, our results suggest that some dominant groups of ground-dwelling arthropods are sensitive indicators of environmental change, such as forest thinning.
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