1. Suppression of wildfires in boreal landscapes has become widespread and has seriously affected many fire favoured species. However, little is known about the response of organism assemblages to large wildfires in regions with a long history of effective fire suppression, such as Scandinavia.
2. We studied the short-term effects of a >1600 ha wildfire on beetle assemblages in northern Sweden. The first summer after fire, beetles were sampled in 12 sites using 36 large window traps, half in old pine forest stands in the burned area and half in similar, but unburned control stands. The entire beetle assemblage and eight subgroups were analysed: saproxylics, non-saproxylics, moderately fire favoured, strongly fire favoured, fungivores, predators, cambium consumers and red-listed species.
3. Species composition differed markedly between burned and unburned forests in all nine groups. Furthermore, beetle abundance was higher in the burned area for the entire assemblage and for saproxylics, both groups of fire favoured species, predators and cambium consumers. Species number was higher only for non-saproxylics, strongly fire favoured species and cambium consumers.
4. Our results show that wildfire has rapid and strong effects on a wide range of beetles. However, we only trapped two individuals of fire-dependent beetles, which may suggest a lack of such species in the region, possibly due to >100 years of fire suppression. At the regional scale, the studied wildfire may potentially increase the abundance of these beetles after a longer period of reproduction in the burned area.
2011. Vol. 4, no 2, 142-151 p.
Boreal forest, dead wood, forest management, functional groups, saproxylic species, wildfire