Effects of burn status and conditioning on colonization of wood by stream macroinvertebrates

TitleEffects of burn status and conditioning on colonization of wood by stream macroinvertebrates
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsVaz, PG
Secondary AuthorsDias, S
Tertiary AuthorsPinto, P
Subsidiary AuthorsMerten, EC, Robinson, CT, Warren, DR, Rego, FC
JournalFreshwater Science
Start Page832
Date Published09/2014
Keywordsinvertebrates, technical reports and journal articles, woody debris

The combination of changing climate and anthropogenic activities is increasing the probability of wildfire around the world. When fires occur in riparian zones, associated tree mortality can add wood directly to streams or wood may fall to the forest floor and remain there for some time before being transported into stream channels. Wood provides critical structure for aquatic macroinvertebrates, so our objectives were to assess the effects of wood burn status, conditioning, and their interaction on macroinvertebrate community composition, taxon and functional diversity, and trait affinities. We conducted a field experiment with pieces of freshly cut wood (length = 10 cm, diameter ≈ 7.5 cm) for which we first manipulated burn status (burned, unburned) and then, conditioned by placing burned and unburned wood directly into streams (no conditioning) or by leaving pieces in streams (water conditioning) or on the forest floor (soil conditioning) for a year before submergence. We used distance-based redundancy analysis to assess community structure by wood treatments and linear mixed-effects modeling to assess effects of wood treatments on taxon and functional diversity and trait affinity. Changes in wood quality resulting from fire may not alter macroinvertebrate community structure. Taxonomic and functional patterns of stream invertebrate colonization did not differ between burned and unburned wood, even after a year of incubation in the stream or on the forest floor. Conditioning status affected taxonomic composition, taxon and functional diversity, and trait affinities of wood invertebrate communities. The terrestrial legacy of soil conditioning was clearly important in structuring macroinvertebrate assemblages. Our results suggest that macroinvertebrate communities may be more sensitive to fire effects on the dynamics of wood input than to effects of fires on the wood itself.