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Forests 2012, 3(4), 959-985; doi:10.3390/f3040959

Oribatid Mite Community Decline Two Years after Low-Intensity Burning in the Southern Cascade Range of California, USA

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521, USA
2
Department of Plant and Soil Science, The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
3
Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, P.O. Box 245, Berkeley, CA 94701, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 July 2012 / Revised: 8 August 2012 / Accepted: 17 October 2012 / Published: 24 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Long-Term Effects of Fire on Forest Soils)
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Abstract

To assess effects of low-intensity fire, we combined two silvicultural prescriptions with prescribed fire in the California Cascade Range. In the first treatment, two 100-ha stands were thinned to reduce density while retaining old-growth structural characteristics, yielding residual stands with high structural diversity (HSD). Two other 100-ha plots were thinned to minimize old growth structure, producing even-aged stands of low structural diversity (LSD), and one 50-ha split-plot from each treatment was burned. In addition, two 50 ha old-growth Research Natural Areas (RNA) were selected as untreated reference plots, one of which was also burned. Fire treatments profoundly altered mite assemblages in the short term, and forest structure modification likely exacerbated that response. Sampling conducted two years following treatment confirmed a continuing decline in oribatid mite abundance. Oribatid species richness and assemblage heterogeneity also declined, and community dominance patterns were disrupted. Oribatid responses to fire were either more intense or began earlier in the LSD treatments, suggesting that removal of old-growth structure exacerbated mite responses to fire. Prostigmatids recovered quickly, but their populations nonetheless diminished significantly in burned split-plots. Mite assemblage responses to prescribed fire were continuing nearly two years later, with no clear evidence of recovery.
Keywords: soil microarthropods; prescribed fire; Acari; Oribatida; oribatid mites; forest management; ponderosa pine; biodiversity soil microarthropods; prescribed fire; Acari; Oribatida; oribatid mites; forest management; ponderosa pine; biodiversity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Camann, M.A.; Lamoncha, K.L.; Gillette, N.E. Oribatid Mite Community Decline Two Years after Low-Intensity Burning in the Southern Cascade Range of California, USA. Forests 2012, 3, 959-985.

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