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Increasing temperature may compensate for lower amounts of dead wood in driving richness of saproxylic beetles

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Global warming and land‐use change are expected to be additive threats to global diversity, to which insects contribute the highest proportion. Insects are strongly influenced by temperature but also require specific habitat resources, and thus interaction between the two factors is likely. We selected saproxylic beetles as a model group because their life cycle depends on dead wood, which is highly threatened by land use. We tested the extent to which higher temperatures compensate for the negative effects of low amounts of dead wood on saproxylic beetle species richness (Temperature–Dead wood compensation hypothesis) on both a macroclimate and a topoclimate scale (north‐ and south‐facing slopes). We analyzed 1404 flight‐interception trap catches across Europe to test for interaction effects of temperature and dead‐wood amount on species richness. To experimentally test our findings from the activity trap data, we additionally reared beetles from 80 bundles of dead wood initially exposed at high and low elevations. At the topoclimate scale, we analyzed trap catches and reared beetles from dead wood exposed in 20 forest stands on south‐facing and north‐facing slopes in one region. On the macroscale, both temperature and dead‐wood amount positively affected total and threatened species richness independently, but their interaction was significantly negative, indicating compensation. On both scales and irrespective of the method, species richness decreased with temperature decline. Our observation that increasing temperature compensates for lower amounts of dead wood has two important implications. First, managers of production forests should adapt their dead‐wood enrichment strategy to site‐specific temperature conditions. Second, an increase in temperature will compensate at least partially for poor habitat conditions in production forests. Such a perspective contrasts the general assumption of reinforcing impacts of global warming and habitat loss on biodiversity, but it is corroborated by recent range expansions of threatened beetle species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2015

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