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Presence of snails points to forest recovery
Date:2/16/2010

and an increase in species that are more characteristic of more open or drier environments (Cernuella virgata and Xerocrassa penchinati), due to the simplification of the habitat structure", explains Santos.

The biologists thus demonstrate the negative effects of a forest fire on the area's diversity of mollusc populations. "This group of organisms only re-colonise the edges of areas affected by fire in a very limited way", says the researcher, who also says that those areas closest to the edges of the fire have not seen any significant increase in forest species. In addition, the 2004 to 2007 drought may also have reduced the ability of gastropods to re-colonise the burnt areas.

However, the scientists have detected some land molluscs that are typical of forest environments existing in the burnt zones, which managed to survive in closed refuges such as tree trunks and rocks.

Post-fire management applications

"These results come into their own in helping to decide between different management models for Mediterranean forest environments that have recently been affected by fire for example replanting the area with conifers", explains the researcher.

Forest fires are common phenomena and cause great destruction to natural areas in Mediterranean environments. The authors of the study say it is "very important to evaluate how organisms respond to these impacts".

The scientists used studies carried out in the south of France and in the United States as their starting point in this research, above all the 2002 forest fire in the central grasslands of the United States (in the states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota), which led to 44% of species there experiencing population declines. The situation was dramatic for snails these animals underwent the most severe declines due to the fire having destroyed all plant waste.


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