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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 101767, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/101767
Research Article

Accidental Fire in the Cerrado: Its Impact on Communities of Caterpillars on Two Species of Erythroxylum

1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil
2Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil
3Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil

Received 9 August 2012; Accepted 9 October 2012

Academic Editor: Helena Maura Torezan-Silingardi

Copyright © 2012 Cintia Lepesqueur et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Among the mechanisms that influence herbivorous insects, fires, a very frequent historical phenomenon in the cerrado, appear to be an important modifying influence on lepidopteran communities. The purpose of this study was to compare the richness, abundance, frequency, and composition of species of caterpillars in two adjacent areas of cerrado sensu stricto, one recently burned and one unburned since 1994, on the experimental farm “Fazenda Água Limpa” (FAL) (1555′S and 4755′W), DF, Brazil. Caterpillars were surveyed on two plant species, genus Erythroxylum: E. deciduum A. St.-Hil. and E. tortuosum Mart. (Erythroxylaceae). We inspected a total of 4,196 plants in both areas, and 972 caterpillars were found on 13.3% of these plants. The number of plants with caterpillars (frequency) differed significantly between the areas. The results indicate that recent and accidental fires have a positive effect on the abundance of caterpillars up to one year postfire, increase the frequency of caterpillars associated with Erythroxylum species in the cerrado and do not affect the richness of caterpillars on these plants. Moreover, the fires change the species composition of caterpillars by promoting an increase in rare or opportunistic species.