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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Positive effects of ecological restoration on rare and threatened flat bugs (Heteroptera: Aradidae)

Hägglund, Ruaridh; Hekkala, Anne-Maarit; Hjältén, Joakim; Tolvanen, Anne


Intensive management of boreal forests has replaced natural disturbances, leading to losses of residual deadwood and saproxylic biodiversity. Declining population sizes have been well documented for insect groups such as bark and wood-boring beetles, whilst other groups such as flat bugs (Heteroptera: Aradidae) are less well-studied and little is known about their response to forest restoration. We conducted two restoration experiments addressing this lack of knowledge. We predicted the following responses to restoration: (1) artificial gap-creation and prescribed burning will attract more flat bugs than control stands, (2) increasing pre-burning fuel loads will have a positive influence on flat bug response to fire restoration. To test these predictions we conducted two field experiments; in Sweden we compared prescribed burning of standing forest with artificial gap-creation and in Finland we compared differing levels of fuel-load prior to burning. We found partial support for our first prediction, total numbers of flat bugs collected was higher in burned forest stands compared to controls in both countries. By contrast, gap-cutting only resulted in a marginal increase in the numbers and species of flat bugs collected. We found no support for our second hypothesis. The red-listed Aradus angularis and A. laeviusculus were primarily found in burned stands. Aradus betulae, A. betulinus and A. lugubris were more frequent in burned stands than gap-cuttings and untreated controls. Our study therefore suggests that ecological restoration, especially burning, is an efficient way of attracting flat bugs to suitable habitat, we therefore recommend ecological restoration to be incorporated in boreal forest management.


Fire; Boreal forest; Disturbance; Gap cutting; Red-listed insects

Published in

Journal of Insect Conservation
2015, Volume: 19, number: 6, pages: 1089-1099