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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Scott M. Ferrenberg; Dylan W. Schwilk; Eric E. Knapp; Eric Groth; Jon E. Keeley
Publication Date: 2006

Prior to fire suppression in the 20th century, the mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, California, U.S.A., historically burned in frequent fires that typically occurred during the late summer and early fall. Fire managers have been attempting to restore natural ecosystem processes through prescription burning, and have often favored burning during the fall in order to mimic historical fire regimes. Increasingly, however, prescription burning is also being done during the late spring and early summer in order to expand the window of opportunity for needed fuel reduction burning. The effect of prescribed fires outside of the historical fire season on forest arthropods is not known. The objective of this study was to compare the short-term effects of prescribed fires ignited in the early and late fire season on forest floor arthropods. Arthropod abundance and diversity were assessed using pitfall trapping in replicated burn units in Sequoia National Park, California. Overall, abundance of arthropods was lower in the burn treatments than in the unburned control. However, diversity tended to be greater in the burn treatments. Fire also altered the relative abundances of arthropod feeding guilds. No significant differences in arthropod community structure were found between early and late season burn treatments. Instead, changes in the arthropod community appeared to be driven largely by changes in fuel loading, vegetation, and habitat heterogeneity, all of which differed more between the burned and unburned treatments than between early and late season burn treatments.

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Citation: Ferrenberg, Scott M.; Schwilk, Dylan W.; Knapp, Eric E.; Groth, Eric; Keeley, Jon E. 2006. Fire decreases arthropod abundance but increases diversity: early and late season prescribed fire effects in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest. Fire Ecology 2(2):79-102.

Cataloging Information

  • arthropods
  • community heterogeneity
  • coniferous forests
  • duff
  • ecology
  • elevation
  • FFS - Fire and Fire Surrogate Study
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • fuel loading
  • litter
  • National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study
  • national parks
  • population density
  • season of fire
  • Sequoia
  • Sierra Nevada
  • sloping terrain
  • species diversity
  • species richness
  • suppression
  • trapping
  • wildlife habitat management
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21998Location Status: In-fileCall Number: Fire FileAbstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 7161

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.