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The effect of prescribed burning on the leaf litter invertebrates of the jarrah forest, with special reference to Apocrita (Insecta: Hymenoptera)

Heath, M., Ladd, P. and Davis, J. (2007) The effect of prescribed burning on the leaf litter invertebrates of the jarrah forest, with special reference to Apocrita (Insecta: Hymenoptera). In: 11th International Mediterranean Ecosystems (MEDECOS) Conference (2007), 2 - 5 September, Perth, Western Australia.

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Abstract

This study has examined the effect of the Department of Environment and Conservation's (DEC) prescribed burning on the leaf litter invertebrates of the Northern Jarrah Forrest in southwestern Australia. These burns are an important management practice to reduce fuel loads in forests, minimizing damaging wildfires. The fires are lit in either spring or autumn, and are intended to be cool and to leave a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches. Although the invertebrate biota of Western Australia has evolved in a fire-prone environment the response of the leaf litter invertebrates to such regular burning is not well understood. The leaf litter of eucalypt forests supports a diverse invertebrate fauna which is essential for nutrient recycling, and a critical component of Western Australia's biodiversity. This study examines the effect of autumn and spring burns on the invertebrate fauna generally, but with particular reference to Apocrita (Insecta: Hymenoptera). The Apocrita are a keystone group that controls the other invertebrate populations through predation and parasitism and, although often present in low numbers, is considered to be possibly the most speciose invertebrate group (Saaksjarvi et al. 2004 ). Due to their low numbers Apocrita are considered to be vulnerable to events like burning, but little research has been conducted to confirm this hypothesis (Lasalle and Gauld 1993). Due to their host specificity, an analysis of apocrita can be used to determine other invertebrate populations and assess changes (Stephens 2005).

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/16253
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