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13-10-2016 | Original Paper | Issue 1/2017

Biodiversity and Conservation 1/2017

Effects of fire disturbance on ant abundance and diversity: a global meta-analysis

Journal:
Biodiversity and Conservation > Issue 1/2017
Authors:
Heraldo L. Vasconcelos, Jonas B. Maravalhas, Tatiana Cornelissen
Important notes
Communicated by Raphael K. Didham.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10531-016-1234-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Abstract

We conducted a meta-analysis of the effects of fire on the abundance and alpha diversity of ants based upon data published over the past 70 years. Overall, fire reduced ant diversity by 18 %, but had no effect on ant abundance. However, there was significant variation in the effect of fire on ant diversity amongst different vegetation types. Fire significantly decreased ant diversity in forests—especially in tropical forests—whereas in deserts, grasslands, and savannas it did not. Similarly, fire had a strong negative mean effect on ant diversity in sites where it is uncommon, but did not significantly affect diversity where it is a recurrent phenomenon. There is evidence that, in forests, wildfires have a stronger negative effect on ant diversity than does prescribed burning. In addition, we found marginally significant differences in the effect of fire on the abundance and diversity of forest ants among studies that sampled ants at different times post-fire, or that sampled ants from different soil strata. In contrast, fire did not significantly affect the abundance or diversity of savanna ants, and this was true even after we took into account the geographic location of the study, the ant community sampled, the time since fire, and the fire regime. Overall, the results of our study indicate that habitat type is an important predictor of ant community responses to fire. However, even within a given habitat, reported effects were quite variable among the studies reviewed, evidencing the idiosyncratic nature of fire effects on ants.

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