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Influence of boreal forest succession and dead wood qualities on saproxylic beetles

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1 Saproxylic insects, a functional group dominated by beetles, are dependent on dead or moribund trees as habitat elements.

2 Although there are few studies of saproxylic insects from the North American boreal zone, European studies demonstrate that forest harvest can lead to a biologically significant decrease in saproxylic beetle diversity.

3 We studied saproxylic beetles in the North American boreal mixedwood forest using flight intercept traps established on naturally dead and girdled trembling aspen and spruce trees along a successional gradient of undisturbed stands from deciduous to coniferous overstory trees.

4 Composition and diversity of beetle assemblages differed among forest successional types.

5 Snag age class was an important determinant of composition for saproxylic beetle assemblages.

6 Multivariate regression analysis of these data indicated that saproxylic beetles are responding to changes in coarse woody debris, and not to the relative densities of canopy tree species, although these variables are strongly correlated.

7 Coarse woody debris management should be a primary concern in forest management plans seeking to conserve saproxylic organisms and the critical ecosystem functions (i.e. nutrient cycling) in which they participate.
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Keywords: Coleoptera; coarse woody debris; habitat associations; insect conservation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320–122 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6H 3S5, Canada

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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