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Insect and vegetation community composition and abundance after wildfire and restoration seeding treatments in southwestern Idaho, USA

September 27, 2018

We conducted the first investigation of insect community responses to post-fire seeding on public rangelands by comparing the composition of insect communities at burned-and-seeded (treatment) and burned-and-unseeded (control) sagebrush-steppe ecological sites in southwestern Idaho. Insect communities in burned areas were compared to unburned (reference) areas. We collected insect and vegetation data within and around the burn perimeter of the 2007 Murphy Fire (652,209 ha), 2002 Big Crow Fire (1,134 ha), and 1995 Clover Fire (78,102 ha) in southwestern Idaho, USA. We captured and identified 24,862 insects from 130 families at the three study sites in 2010. We used a nadir photogrid and point-centered quarter method to estimate the percent cover of vegetation at plots within the sampling sites. To estimate the effect of surrounding landscape on the measured insect communities, we measured the relative percent cover of shrublands and grasslands surrounding each sampling plot using ArcGIS 10 and a LANDFIRE vegetation cover shapefile (LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type Layer. U.S. Department of Interior, Geological Survey. Available: http://landfire.cr.usgs.gov [2013, June 26]). We measured interannual variability of insect and vegetation community composition at the 1995 Clover Fire (78, 102 ha) from 2009 through 2011. We captured 10,104 individual insects from 145 families during this sampling effort. We used a nadir photogrid method each of the three years and point-centered quarter method in 2009 and 2011 (but not 2010) to estimate the percent cover of vegetation at plots within the sampling site.