Short-term and long-term effects of burning on oak savanna arthropods

Evan Siemann, John Haarstad, David Tilman

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84 Scopus citations


We investigated the effects of prescribed burning on the composition, abundance, species richness and diversity of oak savanna arthropod communities in a replicated, large-scale, 30-y experiment. We employed four sampling methods over 3 y and caught 11,215 arthropods of 551 species. Species had varied and often negatively correlated short vs. long-term responses to burning. In the years savannas were burned, species richness and abundance of arthropods, especially Homoptera and Lepidoptera, were reduced and species compositions were sometimes more similar. However, despite its major effect on vegetation, frequency of burning did not affect arthropod abundance and species richness, but sometimes caused savannas to be similar in species or taxonomic order composition. The Shannon diversity index was unaffected by burning. On the whole, prescribed burns necessary to maintain grasslands and savannas do not appear to be harmful to, or to greatly impact, the arthropod fauna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-361
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997


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