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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Substrate specific restoration promotes saproxylic beetle diversity in boreal forest set-asides

Hagglund, Ruaridh; Hjalten, Joakim


In many parts of the boreal biome intensive forest management has resulted in profound changes in forest structure, tree species composition and dead wood availability, and by so negatively effecting forest biodiversity. Restoration of degraded forest habitats is therefore of high priority, both internationally and nationally. Consequently, it is of uttermost importance to develop cost-efficient restoration methods. We have therefore initiated a cost neutral ecological restoration experiment aimed at increasing the variety and volume of dead wood in voluntary set-asides (as part of the FSC certification requirements) by mimicking the two natural disturbances, forest fire and small scale gap dynamics. We studied how tree species and substrate type, i.e. the way in which a tree was killed (cut, girdled, tipped over or cut to produce a high stump), affect species composition, abundance and species richness of saproxylic beetles. We found that species composition differed between tree species in burned as well as gap-cut stands, and that tree posture, i.e. standing or downed trees, also affected species composition in gap-cut stands. In addition, abundance and species richness differed between tree species in gap-cut stands, generally being higher in spruce than in pine and birch. Based on our results we recommend a wider practice of dead wood creation involving a multitude of tree species and tree postures, through mimicking natural disturbances in the management of boreal forests. Furthermore, we suggest that voluntary set-asides provide an excellent opportunity for restoration as they are wide spread and already available in the forest landscape. Restoration cost can therefore be kept at a minimum or totally avoided as in this study.


Ecological restoration; Artificial gap creation; Restoration burning; Saproxylic beetles; Biodiversity; Voluntary set-asides; Dead wood

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2018, Volume: 425, pages: 45-58