Interactions among fire, aspen, and elk affect insect diversity: Reversal of a community response

  • Published source details Bailey J.K. & Whitham T.G. (2002) Interactions among fire, aspen, and elk affect insect diversity: Reversal of a community response. Ecology, 83, 1701-1712.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Remove, control or exclude vertebrate herbivores

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Remove, control or exclude vertebrate herbivores

    A replicated, controlled study in 1997–1998 in a mixed forest in Arizona, USA (Bailey & Whitham 2002) found that aspen Populus tremuloides stands where elk Cervus canadensis were excluded had a higher abundance and species richness of arthropods (including moths) following intense fire, but a lower abundance and species richness following intermediate severity fire. After intense fire, the abundance and species richness of arthropods (including moths) was higher in aspen stands where elk were excluded (abundance: 6 individuals/plot; richness: 4 species/plot) than in browsed stands (abundance: 2 individuals/plot; richness: 1 species/plot), but following intermediate severity fire arthropod abundance and species richness was lower in elk-excluded (abundance: 5 individuals/plot; richness: 3 species/plot) than browsed stands (abundance: 8 individuals/plot; richness: 5 species/plot). The abundance of the most common moth, aspen blotch miner Lithocolletis tremuloidiella, did not differ significantly between elk-excluded (2–6 individuals/plot) and browsed stands (0–4 individuals/plot). Following a wildfire in 1996 which burned at high and intermediate intensity, in 1997 two 75-ha elk exclosures were constructed within a mixed ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa and aspen forest. In summer 1998, arthropods (e.g. insects and spiders) were surveyed visually on the tallest aspen shoot in each of six 1-m2 plots in each of 12 aspen stands (three inside and three outside the exclosures in each of the high and intermediate intensity burned areas).

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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