Effects of wildfire on the community composition of aquatic macroinvertebrates and total mercury concentrations of select organisms in the Okefenokee Swamp
Beganyi, Sarah Rose
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Fire is an important disturbance in the Okefenokee Swamp. From April–June 2007, wildfire burned 75% of the wetland area. With the existence of extensive pre-fire data sets on community structure and total mercury of invertebrates, the fire presented an opportunity to assess impacts of wildfire on invertebrates from the Okefenokee. Post-fire collection of samples occurred in September, December, and May, 2007–2009. Sample sites included 13 burned and 8 non-burned (reference) sites. Comparisons of data among pre-fire, post-fire reference, and post-fire burned sites permitted assessment of wildfire effects on the community composition of invertebrates and total mercury of select organisms (amphipods, crayfish, odonates, mosquitofish). NMS ordinations and ANOSIM tests suggested that habitat was an important factor; communities in burned cypress differed from reference cypress (driven by certain indicator organisms). Unexpectedly, burned sites had lower mercury concentrations in odonates and crayfish, with variation again being greatest in cypress stands.