Arthropod Recolonization of Soil Surface Habitat in Post-Fire Mulch Treatments

Christine Mott, Anita Antoninka, Richard Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing size, severity, and human proximity to fires in the western US are driving a need for more effective ecosystem restoration in the immediate post-fire period. Surface treatments, such as mastication of logging slash, reduce erosion and improve soil nutrient and water retention on steep slopes. However, few studies have investigated the impact of these treatments on arthropod communities over time. Our objective was to determine which insect communities return to these treated areas and if the mulch changes the community structure over time. We surveyed arthropod abundance using pitfall traps in mulch treatments in a landscape-scale fire near Flagstaff, Arizona, and a controlled split-plot experiment outside of the larger fire footprint. Predatory beetles were more abundant in mulch in the large landscape treatment, with no differences in abundance in the split plots. Fungivores had no significant mulch preference, and several native bark beetles were more abundant in the untreated sites. We found that the size of the fire footprint and distance to the intact forest matrix likely impact arthropod community composition over time. We were unable to fully evaluate vegetation recovery, but further work will allow us to understand how surface treatments impact the interaction of arthropods and vegetation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1421
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • BAER treatments
  • erosion control
  • forest management
  • insect communities
  • slash piles
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry


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