Short-term Impacts of Prescribed Burning on the Spider Community (Order: Araneae) in a Small Ohio Grassland


  • Sarah Jane Rose The Ohio State University
  • P. Charles Goebel



Grassland, Spiders (Araneae), Prescribed Burning


Prescribed burning is a management tool that is widely accepted for prairie management and restoration, yet little is known how burning may impact the spider community. Although it is generally thought that prescribed burning may alter the spider community composition and structure, few studies have examined these shifts in a controlled manner with both a burned grassland and a nearby unburned companion grassland.  On October 25, 2014 we conducted a prescribed burn of a grassland at the Gwynne Conservation Area, London, Ohio. Spiders were sampled using pitfall traps for four weeks pre-burn and six weeks post-burn in both the treatment grassland and adjacent unburned grassland. A total of 298 spiders were collected from sixteen families, over 60% of which were in the family Lycosidae. Overall, we found the prescribed burn did not significantly alter the abundance or diversity of spiders collected, and interestingly it appears the community composition of the unburned grassland changed more over the sample period than the burned grassland. Anecdotal observations also suggest that some spiders are capable of surviving the fire in situ. As we continue to study these communities, we will develop a better understanding of role that prescribed burning plays in regulating the structure and composition of the spider communities. Such information is important to develop process-based restoration and management practices in grassland ecosystems.


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