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Research article2016Peer reviewed

Long-term effects of clear-cutting on epigaeic beetle assemblages in boreal forests

Johansson, Therese; Hjältén, Joakim; Olsson, Jörgen; Dynesius, Mats; Roberge, Jean-Michel


Management of boreal forests for timber production has caused changes in forest structures and disturbance regimes, which have influenced a wide range of organisms. The aim of this study was to evaluate how composition of epigaeic (ground-living) beetle assemblages is influenced by stand age and management history in a heavily managed boreal forest landscape. We compared the epigaeic assemblages among stands of three ages: (1) young (8-25 years) and (2) middle-aged (40-58 years) stands regrown after clear-cutting, and mature stands (80-130 years) that had been selectively cut historically but never clear felled. We sampled epigaeic beetles in each of 42 stands, using 10 pitfall traps during seven summer weeks. More than 9000 specimens were collected and identified. The assemblages in young stands differed from those in middle-aged and mature stands, both for the Staphylinidae (rove beetles) and all beetle families combined. Carabidae (ground beetles) composition differed between young and middle aged stands only, and assemblages of Curculionidae (weevils, bark beetles and allies) differed between young and mature stands only. Assemblages of Leiodidae (round fungus beetles) had similar composition in all three stand types. Considering all families, young stands generally harbored fewer species and lower abundances compared with middle aged and mature stands. However, the Leiodidae had similar species richness in all three stand types. The lack of differences in assemblage composition, species richness and abundance between middle aged and mature stands suggests that epigaeic beetle assemblages recolonize following clear-felling. However, our collections included large numbers of unique and usually rare species in mature stands, indicating that old forest is important for the conservation of epigaeic beetles. Furthermore, the lower abundance of these beetles in young stands indicates that an increasing proportion of young stands on managed landscapes will reduce the overall abundances of epigaeic beetle species, with potentially negative impacts on recolonization. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Species conservation; Trophic interactions; Boreal forest; Biodiversity; Forest management; Staphylinidae; Carabidae; Curculionidae; Leiodidae

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2016, Volume: 359, pages: 65-73
Publisher: Elsevier