Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Fire frequency and severity have increased dramatically due to anthropogenic activity including historic fire suppression leading to fuel build-up. Investigating the influence of fire and fire-related characteristics (frequency, severity, spread, etc.) on organisms and their ecosystem services is therefore of high importance. This work is especially pertinent for arthropods, which constitute a large portion of global diversity and offer important ecosystem services, including pollination. Existing literature has demonstrated the susceptibility of many Lepidoptera to fire, but this has been variable across studies, underscoring the need to consider how fire-related variables impact survival. In addition, there continues to be a global decline of nocturnal moths, which are important but understudied floral visitors. I investigated the community structure and pollen transport networks of nocturnal moths along a time-since-fire gradient within the endangered rosemary balds of central Florida. I observed a decrease in moth abundance at sites burned one year ago, which contributed to communities being distinct from those from sites burned two years ago or left unburned. Declines in abundance had cascading effects on moth pollen transport networks as the number of pollen-transporting moths was smaller at sites burned one year ago. Yet, networks from burned sites were more complex and the proportion of moths transporting pollen remained constant across the gradient of time-since-fire. Overall, moth communities had extremely quick recovery times with all calculated diversity indices returning to pre-fire conditions after just two years. This relatively quick rebound in community structure might provide these fire-vulnerable organisms the chance to re-establish in between ever-increasing fire events.
Thomas, Karma Kashmir, "Cascading Effect Of Recent Fires On Moth Abundance Alters Pollen Transport Networks In Rosemary Bald Habitats" (2023). Theses - ALL. 796.