Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Howard, Jerome

Second Advisor

Anthony, Nicola

Third Advisor

Bell, Charles


The objective of this study is to determine whether changes in arthropod community structure in restored longleaf pine savannas corresponds to differences in vegetation structure often associated with burn frequency. Longleaf pine savannas are fire-maintained ecosystems characteristic of the southeastern United States and have experienced severe declines (around 97%) since European settlement. Changes in fire regime have been instrumental in the declines. Restoration of these ecosystems has involved reinstitution of periodic burnings to promote and maintain vegetative characteristics of the savannas. This study investigates trends in arthropod communities from areas heavily invaded by hardwood shrubs against those dominated by longleaf pines and associated vegetation. These data suggest that herb-dominated sites have higher overall diversity. While overall abundance differences were not found, significant differences have been detected at the order and family level, indicating that vegetation structure and periodic burning are important factors in maintaining arthropod communities characteristic of these savannas.


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