Conference Paper

Experimental fires in a Mediterranean environment: effects on oribatid mite communities

Berlin

ABSTRACT The effect of high- and low-intensity experimental fires on oribatid mites communities was investigated in the Mediterranean maquis at “Castel Volturno” Nature Reserve (Caserta, southern Italy). Statistical and multivariate analysis indicated qualitative and quantitative differences in oribatid mite communities among investigated areas and among fire treatments. Non-metric multidimensional scaling showed site assemblages related to the time from experimental fires. Dry climatic conditions and fire intensity characterized oribatid mite populations in the study area. The combination of diversity indices showed an increase in species dominance and a decrease in evenness in burned areas two years after fires. From the faunistic contingent present in all sites, eurytopic species such as Punctoribates punctum, able to colonise a wide range of habitats, increased their abundance in burned areas in particular 728 days after fires.

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    ABSTRACT: In a Mediterranean area of Southern Italy, affected by low- and high-severity experimental fires, burned and unburned soils were analysed, at 245, 364 and 728 days after fire, for total and active fungal mycelium mass, abundance, species density and species composition of total, xerotolerant and heatstimulated culturable fungi, oribatid mites and springtails. Principal Component Analysis was used to compare species composition of fungal community and faunal groups in burned and unburned plots. Independently of severity, fire generally caused a decrease in fungal mass, an increase in culturable total, xerotolerant and heat-stimulated fungi abundance (CFU), and minor changes in fungal species density. In parallel, fire induced a reduction in abundance and species density of studied faunal groups, generally correlated with fungal changes, and was consistently associated with the appearance of fungal and faunal species not present in control. Moreover, qualitative and quantitative changes in fungal community and faunal groups were recorded in association with sampling time. The results also suggested that the mosaic of burned and unburned areas, typical of a Mediterranean maquis affected by fire, could promote biodiversity in soil by favouring the contemporary presence of species typical of disturbed and undisturbed areas.
    European Journal of Soil Biology 01/2013; 53:33-43. · 1.84 Impact Factor