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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Boxes mimicking tree hollows can help conservation of saproxylic beetles

Jansson, Nicklas; Ranius, Thomas; Larsson, Anna; Milberg, Per


Old hollow trees have declined in Europe and many saproxylic (i.e. wood-dwelling) invertebrates living on them are threatened. The aim of this study was to investigate to what extent artificial habitats can be exploited by saproxylic beetles. To mimic the conditions in tree hollows, we constructed wooden boxes filled with different combinations of substrates like oak saw dust, oak leaves, a dead hen (Gallus domesticus), chicken dung, lucerne flour or potatoes and placed them on tree trunks. To investigate the importance of distance from dispersal sources, we placed boxes at different distances (0-1,800 m) from three species-rich sites with high densities of hollow oaks. Over 3 years, 3,423 specimens of 105 saproxylic beetle species were caught in 47 boxes. Among beetles found in hollow oaks that were either tree-hollow species, bird nest species, or wood rot species, 70% were also found in the boxes. A dead hen added to the artificial wood mould gave a higher number of beetle specimens. The number of species associated with tree hollows in oak decreased with distance from sites with hollow oaks. In conclusion, the prospects for using artificial environments for boosting substrate availability, or to fill spatial and temporal gaps therein, for saproxylic beetles are good.


Artificial habitat; Colonisation; Hollow oak; Quercus robur; Saproxylic beetles; Wood mould boxes

Published in

Biodiversity and Conservation
2009, volume: 18, number: 14, pages: 3891-3908

Authors' information

Jansson, Nicklas
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Larsson, Anna
Milberg, Per
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Milberg, Per
Linköping University

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

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