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Effects of prescribed fire and fire surrogates on floral visiting insects of the blue ridge province in North Carolina

Informally Refereed
Authors: J.W. Campbell, J.L. Hanula, T.A. Waldrop
Year: 2007
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Biological conservation, Vol. 134: 393-404


Pollination by insects in forests is an extremely important process that should be conserved. Not only do pollinating insects help to maintain a diversity of plants within forests, but they also aid in pollinating crops found near forested land. Currently, the effects of various forest management practices on floral visiting insect abundance or diversity is unknown, so we investigated how prescribed burning, mechanical shrub control, and combination of the two affected abundance of floral visiting insects. We caught 7921 floral visitors from four orders and 21 families. Hymenoptera was the most abundant and diverse order, with Halictidae being the most abundant family. A total of 45 species of Hymenoptera representing six families were captured. We caught seven families and 35 species of Lepidoptera, six families and 33 species of Coleoptera, and two families and 13 species of Diptera. Most floral visitors were captured in the mechanical shrub control plus prescribed burn treatments, while lower numbers were caught on the mechanical shrub control only, prescribed burn only and control treatments. Overall species richness was also higher on mechanical plus burn treatments. Total pollinator abundance and the abundance of most orders and families was correlated with decreased tree basal area and increased percent herbaceous plant cover. Our study shows that floral visitors increased in abundance and species richness most from forest disturbance that reduced the density of overstory trees and increased the amount of herbaceous plant growth.


Campbell, J.W.; Hanula, J.L.; Waldrop, T.A. 2007. Effects of prescribed fire and fire surrogates on floral visiting insects of the blue ridge province in North Carolina. Biological conservation, Vol. 134: 393-404