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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Substrate specificity among Diptera in decaying bioenergy wood: can they be conserved by the same measures as are currently applied to beetles?

Jonsell, Mats; Widenfalk, Lina A.; Hellqvist, Sven


Although threatened by forestry, our knowledge concerning saproxylic insects is strongly biased towards well-known orders, mainly beetles (Coleoptera). The beetles have, therefore, formed the basis on which conservation measures of other groups have been formulated. Despite being more species-rich, the Diptera have been rather neglected. Moreover, our limited knowledge of the Diptera suggests that their demands on the dead wood substrate differ markedly from that of coleopterans. We tested if this is true by comparing the substrate requirements of dipteran and coleopteran species by analysing the affinities of species assemblages for logging residues differing in age, size, and tree species. Insects were reared out from the same samples of bioenergy wood from clear-cuts in Sweden. 15 species of Brachyceran flies were compared with 56 species of Coleoptera. We found the average level of specialisation to be similar between the two groups, but the dipterans had (contrary to the expectations) a higher proportion of specialists. Affinities for differently aged wood were similar. More dipterans than beetles were associated with the coarsest wood (diameter 9 cm-15 cm). More dipterans than beetles tended to be associated with aspen (Populus tremula), while Coleoptera tended to be more associated than Diptera with oak (Quercus) and spruce (Picea abies). We conclude that most recommendations for conserving the saproxylic beetle fauna also seem to benefit dipterans, but that the dipterans might be even more sensitive to which qualities of the wood that is preserved. The high conservation value of aspen is already recognised and our results for dipterans strengthen this. The high incidence of many dipteran species in logging residues suggests that many dipterans use sun-exposed environments.


Beetles; Coleoptera; Diptera; Flies; Niche breadth; Saproxylic; Specialisation

Published in

Biodiversity and Conservation
2020, Volume: 29, pages: 2623-2662
Publisher: SPRINGER

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