Reintroduction of fire and thinning have been suggested as the main practices to regain forest health in northern Arizona ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Lawson) forests. Criteria for assessing the impact of such management practices in the forest are based on benchmark reconstructed conditions resembling pre-European forest stand structure and on the enhancement of tree vigor. A range of forest conditions currently exists including stands that have been unmanaged, thinned only, thinned plus prescribed burned and burned by wildfire. A surrogate taxon was used to assess forest condition under criteria of maintaining habitat for native species operating at the soil level. We assessed changes occurring in ground beetle assemblages at the stand scale as related to changes that had occurred in forest stands previously treated with the above treatments. A pitfall-trapping scheme was deployed during the summer months of 1998, 1999, and 2000. A total of 4,452 specimens was caught representing 15 genera and 20 species of ground beetles. We found that species diversity increased as the level of disturbance increased. The indicator species assemblage found on the wildfire treatment was represented by species in the genera Amara and Harpalus that are characteristic of dry-open habitats. Unmanaged stands generally had the lowest diversity and the assemblage was dominated by the species Synuchus dubius (Leconte). The thinned only stands did not significantly vary from unmanaged stands in species assemblage. Cyclotrachelus constrictus (Say) was indicative of the thinning plus broadcast burned stands. Stands that were thinned plus burned were richer than both unmanaged and thinned only stands without a shift toward an open-area dominant assemblage as occurred in the stands burned by wildfire.
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