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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Forest restoration by burning and gap cutting of voluntary set-asides yield distinct immediate effects on saproxylic beetles

Hjalten, J.; Hagglund, R.; Lofroth, T.; Roberge, J-M.; Dynesius, M.; Olsson, J.


Today, the importance of restoring natural forest disturbance regimes and habitat structures for biodiversity is widely recognized. We evaluated the immediate effects of two restoration methods on wood-inhabiting (saproxylic) beetles in boreal forest voluntary set-asides. We used a before-after control-impact experimental set-up in 15 set-asides; each assigned to one of three treatments: (1) restoration burning, (2) gap cutting and (3) no-treatment reference stands. Before treatment, abundance, species richness and assemblage composition of trapped beetles did not differ significantly among treatments. Burning resulted in a significant change in assemblage composition and increased species richness and abundance compared to reference stands. As predicted, saproxylic species known to be fire favoured increased dramatically after burning. The immediate response shows that, initially, fire favoured species are attracted from the surrounding landscape and not produced on site. Gap cutting increased the abundance of cambium consumers but had no significant effect on total species richness or assemblage composition of saproxylic beetles. The stronger effect of burning compared to gap cutting on saproxylic assemblages is probably due to the very specific conditions created by fires that attracts many disturbance-dependent species, but that at the same time disfavour some disturbance-sensitive species. By contrast, gap cutting maintained assemblage composition, increased abundances and is likely to increase species richness in the years to follow, due to elevated level of dead wood. The restoration methods applied in this study may prove particularly useful, partly because of positive effect on saproxylic beetles, but also due to the cost-efficiency of the measures; the voluntary set-asides were already established and the restoration costs fully covered by revenue from the extracted timber.


Restoration; Fire; Gap cutting; Saproxylic beetles; Biodiversity; Voluntary set-asides; Boreal forest

Published in

Biodiversity and Conservation
2017, Volume: 26, number: 7, pages: 1623-1640
Publisher: SPRINGER