I’m doing my doctoral thesis “The effects of fire on ants and other arthropods: A study on different depths” at the Department of Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation of the EBD-CSIC. I started in September 2014 with a Severo Ochoa-La Caixa contract and under the supervision of Xim Cerdá and Raphäel Boulay.
Fire is a disturbance that causes large changes in Mediterranean ecosystems, affecting the landscape and the dynamics and structure of communities. Although the main effect of fire is obviously the destruction of flora, indirect effects are diverse and complex. Extensive literature indicates that in fire-prone environments such as the Iberian Peninsula, native plant communities are relatively resilient and recover gradually after a fire. However, available information on the effects on animal communities, especially on invertebrates, is much more scarce.
With this PhD project we want to analyze the consequences of fire on three groups of epigeal arthropods (ants, beetles and spiders) often used as bioindicators for ecosystem recovery. The aim of the thesis is to understand how species, communities and ecosystems respond to environmental changes caused by fire. We will do so by studying the its effects on: 1) Patterns of abundance and species richness of ants, beetles and spiders, 2) functional diversity of ants, beetles and spiders, 3) the dominance relationships in the communities of ants and 4) the use of trophic resources by ants.