The effects of high-severity fires on the arboreal ant community of a Neotropical savanna

Thaynah F. Rosa, Flávio Camarota, Lino A. Zuanon, Richard Tito, Jonas Maravalhas, Scott Powell, Heraldo L. Vasconcelos

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13 Citas (Scopus)

Resumen

Fire-suppression is of concern in fire-prone ecosystems because it can result in the loss of endemic species. Suppressing fires also causes a build-up of flammable biomass, increasing the risk of severe fires. Using a Before-After, Control-Impacted design, we assessed the consequences of high-severity fires on Neotropical savanna arboreal ant communities. Over a 9-year period, we sampled the ant fauna of the same trees before and after two severe fires that hit a savanna reserve in Brazil and the trees from an unburned savanna site that served as a temporal control. The ant community associated with the unburned trees was relatively stable, with no significant temporal variation in species richness and only a few species changing in abundance over time. In contrast, we found a strong decline in species richness and marked changes in species composition in the burned trees, with some species becoming more prevalent and many becoming rare or locally extinct. The dissimilarity in species richness and composition was significantly smaller between the two pre-fire surveys than between the pre- and post-fire surveys. Fire-induced changes were much more marked among species with strictly arboreal nesting habits, and therefore more susceptible to the direct effects of fire. The decline of some of the ecologically dominant arboreal ant species may be particularly important, as it opens substantial ecological space for cascading community-wide changes. In particular, severe fires appear to disrupt the typical vertical stratification between the arboreal and ground-dwelling faunas, which might lead to homogenization of the overall ant community.
Idioma originalEspañol
Páginas (desde-hasta)951-961
Número de páginas11
PublicaciónOecologia
Volumen196
EstadoPublicada - 1 ago. 2021

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