Influence of tree hollow characteristics on saproxylic beetle diversity in a managed forest

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  • Bastian Schauer, University of Bayreuth
  • ,
  • Manuel J. Steinbauer
  • ,
  • Lionel S. Vailshery, University of Bayreuth
  • ,
  • Jörg Müller, Field Station Fabrikschleichach, Julius-Maximilians-Universitat Wurzburg, Department of Conservation and Research, Bavarian State Institute National Park
  • ,
  • Heike Feldhaar, University of Bayreuth
  • ,
  • Elisabeth Obermaier, University of Bayreuth

Tree hollows are key structures in forest ecosystems constituting long-lasting habitats and nutritional resources for many saproxylic arthropod species. Due to diverse microhabitat structures and conditions in tree hollows, they can support a broad range of species. However, in the past intensive management practices in parts of Europe reduced the abundance of tree hollows, resulting in a decrease and endangerment of species specialised in this tree habitat. We investigated 40 beech trees with hollows in 2014 and a subset of 23 of these trees in 2015 in a managed forest landscape in Germany. Using emergence traps we collected 89 beetle species of which 33% were on the Bavarian Red List. We described the tree characteristics, physical hollow characteristics, and their surrounding environment investigating their influence on α-diversity of non-Red List and Red List species. Furthermore, we investigated spatial (between tree hollows) and temporal (same tree hollow but different years) β-diversity, considering the importance of turnover and nestedness components on β-diversity. α-Diversity decreased with increasing decomposition of wood mould and increased with increasing area of hollow entrance in both years. Additional characteristics differed between years and between non-Red List and Red List species. β-Diversity was related to diameter at breast height, number of surrounding tree hollows, area of hollow entrance and a temperature gradient. We found a higher species turnover than nestedness between tree hollows and between years, indicating highly dynamic beetle communities spatially as well as temporally. To support and maintain the diversity of saproxylic beetles inhabiting tree hollows, the heterogeneity of microhabitats is important and should be supported by maintaining the diversity of differently structured and sized tree hollows.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Pages (from-to)853-869
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Coleoptera, Conservation, Dead wood, Keystone structure, Threatened species, Wood mould

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