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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Colonisation of ephemeral forest habitats by specialised species: Beetles and bugs associated with recently dead aspen wood

Ranius Thomas, Martikainen Petri, Kouki Jari


The most appropriate strategy for preserving fragmented populations depends on a species' ability to colonise distant habitat patches. Insects associated with early decay stages of dead wood are expected to have a high capacity to colonise new habitat patches. To study the dispersal ranges of beetles (Coleoptera) and flat bugs (Hemiptera: Aradidae) dependent on recently dead aspen (Populus tremula) wood in Finland, we set out 58 piles of recently cut aspen logs at various distances up to 1.6 km from forests that contained a high density of old aspen trees. We captured insects by trunk window-traps, and counted beetles' exit holes. Habitat connectivity was measured in terms of the amount of suitable aspen-wood in the surrounding environment, with the closest dead wood items up-weighted by a negative-exponential function. The log-piles attracted many saproxylic insects including four red-listed aspen-specialist species. The exposure of log-piles to the sun, and high levels of habitat connectivity increased the species richness of aspen-specialists, whereas bark peeling by moose decreased richness. The spatial scale at which species richness had its strongest response to habitat was 93 m. Among individual species there was a wide variability in spatial scale of response. This study supports the view that conservation efforts in boreal forests should be concentrated on sites where colonisation by target species is most likely. Restoration of habitat by re-locating logs may be useful at localities with a rich and specialised fauna but which have too low rate of formation of dead wood by natural processes


Bark; Dispersal; Habitat connectivity; Restoration; Saproxylic insects

Published in

Biodiversity and Conservation
2011, volume: 20, number: 13, pages: 2903-2915

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Kouki, Jari
Martikainen, Petri

Associated SLU-program

SLU Future Forests

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Publication Identifiers


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