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Current Near‐to‐Nature Forest Management Effects on Functional Trait Composition of Saproxylic Beetles in Beech Forests

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Abstract

With the aim of wood production with negligible negative effects on biodiversity and ecosystem processes, a silvicultural practice of selective logging with natural regeneration has been implemented in European beech forests (Fagus sylvatica) during the last decades. Despite this near‐to‐nature strategy, species richness of various taxa is lower in these forests than in unmanaged forests. To develop guidelines to minimize the fundamental weaknesses in the current practice, we linked functional traits of saproxylic beetle species to ecosystem characteristics. We used continental‐scale data from 8 European countries and regional‐scale data from a large forest in southern Germany and forest‐stand variables that represented a gradient of intensity of forest use to evaluate the effect of current near‐to‐nature management strategies on the functional diversity of saproxylic beetles. Forest‐stand variables did not have a statistically significant effect on overall functional diversity, but they did significantly affect community mean and diversity of single functional traits. As the amount of dead wood increased the composition of assemblages shifted toward dominance of larger species and species preferring dead wood of large diameter and in advanced stages of decay. The mean amount of dead wood across plots in which most species occurred was from 20 to 60 m3/ha. Species occurring in plots with mean dead wood >60 m3/ha were consistently those inhabiting dead wood of large diameter and in advanced stages of decay. On the basis of our results, to make current wood‐production practices in beech forests throughout Europe more conservation oriented (i.e., promoting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning), we recommend increasing the amount of dead wood to >20 m3/ha; not removing dead wood of large diameter (50 cm) and allowing more dead wood in advanced stages of decomposition to develop; and designating strict forest reserves, with their exceptionally high amounts of dead wood, that would serve as refuges for and sources of saproxylic habitat specialists.

Efectos Actuales del Manejo Casi Natural de Bosques sobre la Composición de Atributos Funcionales de Escarabajos Saproxílicos en Bosques de Haya
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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