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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Trait-environment interactions of saproxylic beetles as a guide to biodiversity conservation strategies

Bergmark, Paulina; Hjalten, Joakim; Svensson, Johan; Neumann, Wiebke; Hekkala, Anne-Maarit


Conservation of biodiversity requires in-depth knowledge of trait-environment interactions to understand the influence the environment has on species assemblages. Saproxylic beetles exhibit a wide range of traits and functions in the forest ecosystems. Understanding their responses to surrounding environment thus improves our capacity to identify habitats that should be restored or protected. We investigated potential interactions between ecological traits in saproxylic beetles (feeding guilds and habitat preferences) and environmental variables (deadwood, type and age of surrounding forest). We sampled beetles from 78 plots containing newly created high stumps of Scots pine and Silver birch in boreal forest landscapes in Sweden for three consecutive years. Using a model based approach, our aim was to explore potential interactions between ecological traits and the surrounding environment at close and distant scale (20 m and 500 m radius). We found that broadleaf-preferring beetle species are positively associated with the local broadleaf-originated deadwood and broadleaf-rich forests in the surrounding landscapes. Conifer-preferring species are positively associated with the local amount of coniferous deadwood and young and old forests in the surrounding landscape. Fungivorous and predatory beetles are positively associated with old forests in the surrounding landscapes. Our results indicate that both local amounts of deadwood and types of forests in the landscape are important in shaping saproxylic beetle communities. We particularly highlight the need to increase deadwood amounts of various qualities in the landscape, exempt older forests from production and to increase broadleaf-rich habitats in order to meet different beetle species' habitat requirements. Trait responses among saproxylic beetles provide insights into the significance of broadleaf forest and dead wood as essential attributes in boreal forest restoration, which helps conservation planning and management in forest landscapes.


Coleoptera; Landscape; Deadwood; Forest management; Biodiversity; Functional traits

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2024, Volume: 360, article number: 121080