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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

What do tree-related microhabitats tell us about the abundance of forest-dwelling bats, birds, and insects?

Basile, Marco; Asbeck, Thomas; Jonker, Marlotte; Knuff, Anna K.; Bauhus, Juergen; Braunisch, Veronika; Mikusinski, Grzegorz; Storch, Ilse

Abstract

Retaining trees during harvesting to conserve biodiversity is becoming increasingly common in forestry. To assess, select and monitor these habitat trees, ecologists and practitioners often use Tree-related Microhabitats (TreMs), which are assumed to represent the abundance and diversity of environmental resources for a wide range of forest-dwelling taxa. However, the relationship between TreMs and forest organisms is not fully understood. In this context, we attempted to identify and quantify the links between TreMs and three groups of forest organisms: insects, bats, and birds. Specifically, we tested whether species abundance is influenced by TreM abundance, either as direct predictor or as mediator of environmental predictors.We collected data in 86 temperate, 1-ha mixed forest plots and employed a hierarchical generalized mixed model to assess the influence of seven environmental predictors (aspect, number and height of standing dead trees, cover of herb and shrub layer, volume of lying deadwood, and terrain ruggedness index (TRI)) on the abundance of TreMs (15 groups) on potential habitat trees, insects (10 orders), bats (5 acoustic groups) and birds (29 species) as a function of seven environmental predictors: aspect, number and height of standing dead trees, cover of herb and shrub layer, volume of lying deadwood, and terrain ruggedness index (TRI). This allowed us to generate a correlation matrix with potential links between abundances of TreMs and co-occurring forest organisms. These correlations and the environmental predictors were tested in a structural equation model (SEM) to disentangle and quantify the effects of the environment from direct effects of TreMs on forest organisms.Four TreM groups showed correlations > vertical bar 0.30 vertical bar with forest organisms, in particular with insects and bats. Rot holes and concavities were directly linked with three insect groups and two bat groups. Their effect was smaller than effects of environmental predictors, except for the pairs "rot holes - Sternorrhyncha" and "rot holes - bats" of the Pipistrellus group. In addition, TreMs had indirect effects on forest organisms through mediating the effects of environmental predictors.We found significant associations between two out of fifteen TreM groups and five out of 44 forest organism groups. These results indicate that TreM abundance on potential habitat trees is not suited as a general indicator of the species abundance across broad taxonomic groups but possibly for specific target groups with proven links.

Keywords

TreMs; Retention forestry; Biodiversity indicator; Forest management; Structural equation models

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2020, Volume: 264, article number: 110401
Publisher: ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Ecology

    Publication Identifiers

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110401

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/105745