We investigated the midterm effects of wildfire (in this case, five years after the fire) of varying severity on periphyton, benthic invertebrates, emerging adult aquatic insects, spiders, and bats by comparing unburned sites with those exposed to low severity (riparian vegetation burned but canopy intact) and high severity (canopy completely removed) wildfire. We observed no difference in periphyton chlorophyll a or ash-free dry mass among different burn categories but did observe significantly greater biomass of benthic invertebrates in both high severity burned and unburned reaches versus low severity burned reaches. Moreover, a significantly greater flux of adult aquatic insect emergence occurred at sites that experienced high severity fire versus low severity burned and unburned sites. The greatest number of spiders and bat echolocation calls were also observed at sites of high severity fire. Our results suggest that fires of different severity may have very different affects on stream-riparian food webs and that high severity wildfire may lead to an extended "fire pulse" that stimulates aquatic productivity and flux of prey to terrestrial habitats, driving local increases in riparian consumers.
|Number of pages
|Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
|Published - Mar 2010