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Forests 2014, 5(4), 689-714; doi:10.3390/f5040689

Repeated Raking of Pine Plantations Alters Soil Arthropod Communities

Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, NFREC-Quincy, University of Florida, 155 Research Rd, Quincy, FL 32351, USA
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Powdermill Nature Reserve, 1847 Route 381, Rector, PA 15677, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 January 2014 / Revised: 21 March 2014 / Accepted: 31 March 2014 / Published: 10 April 2014
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Terrestrial arthropods in forests are engaged in vital ecosystem functions that ultimately help maintain soil productivity. Repeated disturbance can cause abrupt and irreversible changes in arthropod community composition and thereby alter trophic interactions among soil fauna. An increasingly popular means of generating income from pine plantations in the Southeastern U.S. is annual raking to collect pine litter. We raked litter once per year for three consecutive years in the pine plantations of three different species (loblolly, Pinus taeda; longleaf, P. palustris; and slash, P. elliottii). We sampled arthropods quarterly for three years in raked and un-raked pine stands to assess temporal shifts in abundance among dominant orders of arthropods. Effects varied greatly among orders of arthropods, among timber types, and among years. Distinct trends over time were apparent among orders that occupied both high trophic positions (predators) and low trophic positions (fungivores, detritivores). Multivariate analyses demonstrated that raking caused stronger shifts in arthropod community composition in longleaf and loblolly than slash pine stands. Results highlight the role of pine litter in shaping terrestrial arthropod communities, and imply that repeated removal of pine straw during consecutive years is likely to have unintended consequences on arthropod communities that exacerbate over time. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity; disturbance; litter; loblolly pine; longleaf pine; multiple-use forests; pine straw; slash pine; sustainability biodiversity; disturbance; litter; loblolly pine; longleaf pine; multiple-use forests; pine straw; slash pine; sustainability

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Ober, H.K.; DeGroote, L.W. Repeated Raking of Pine Plantations Alters Soil Arthropod Communities. Forests 2014, 5, 689-714.

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