The Effects of Varying Forest Fire Severities on the Abundance of Beetles in the Colorado Front Range
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Forest fires can have a multitude of effects on various ecological communities and their trophic interactions. However, there has been little research done on the effects of forest fires on macroinvertebrates and their feeding patterns. In my paper, I aim to analyze the abundance of beetles based on differences in severities of the Hi Meadows forest fire of 2000 in Bailey, Colorado, and how this may be influenced by post-fire feeding patterns. I performed sweep net surveys in high, low and unbumed sites within the Hi Meadows fire. From the samples, I counted out the number of beetles found at each site and performed an analysis of variance in order to determine whether there was a significant difference in beetle abundance. I found that the high severity site of the Hi Meadows fire had a significantly higher amount of beetles than that of the low and unbumed sites. However, through a Tukey's HSD test, I determined that there was no significant difference between beetles abundance between the low and unbumed sites. My data demonstrates the effect that forest fires have on insects and in particular beetles and can be used as a starting point to discuss land management options that can be sustainably instituted in order to maintain a natural level of trophic interactions. Similarly, my study demonstrates how beetles are exceptional bioindicators for climate change in relation to forest fires.