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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Choosy beetles: How host trees and southern boreal forest naturalness may determine dead wood beetle communities

Burner, Ryan C.; Birkemoe, Tone; Stephan, Jörg; Drag, Lukas; Muller, Jörg; Ovaskainen, Otso; Potterf, Mária; Skarpaas, Olav; Snäll, Tord; Sverdrup-Thygeson, Anne


Wood-living beetles make up a large proportion of forest biodiversity and contribute to important ecosystem services, including decomposition. Beetle communities in managed southern boreal forests are less species rich than in natural and near-natural forest stands. In addition, many beetle species rely primarily on specific tree species. Yet, the associations between individual beetle species, forest management category, and tree species are seldom quantified, even for red-listed beetles. We compiled a beetle capture dataset from flight intercept traps placed on Norway spruce (Picea abies), oak (Quercus sp.), and Eurasian aspen (Populus tremulae) trees in 413 sites in mature managed forest, near-natural forest, and clear-cuts in southeastern Norway. We used joint species distribution models to estimate the strength of associations for 368 saproxylic beetle species (including 20 vulnerable, endangered, or critical red-listed species) for each forest management category and tree species. Tree species on which traps were mounted had the largest effect on beetle communities; oaks had the most highly associated beetle species, including most of the red-listed species, followed by Norway spruce and Eurasian aspen. Most beetle species were more likely to be captured in near-natural than in mature managed forest. Our estimated associations were compatible – for many species – with categorical classifications found in several existing databases of saproxylic beetle preferences. These quantitative beetle-habitat associations will improve future analyses that have typically relied on categorical classifications. Our results highlight the need to prioritize conservation of near-natural forests and oak trees in Scandinavia to protect the habitat of many red-listed species in particular. Furthermore, we underline the importance of carefully considering the species of trees on which traps are mounted in order to representatively sample beetle communities in forest stands.


ColeopteraIndicator species; Joint species distribution models (JSDMs; Near-natural forest; Red-listed species; Saproxylic beetles

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2021, Volume: 487, article number: 119023