Shelterwood and multicohort management have similar initial effects on ground beetle assemblages in boreal forests.
Luana Graham-Sauvé, Timothy Work, Daniel Kneeshaw, Christian Messier.
Partial cutting has been proposed as a means to better conserve biodiversity in managed forest landscapes. However, partial cutting encompasses many forms of silviculture; some with implicit goals of maintaining biodiversity such as multicohort harvesting or others which may specifically focus on regeneration of stands but may still provide some additional benefits for biodiversity such as shelterwood harvesting. Here we compared ground beetle assemblages of clear cuts, shelterwoods, multicohort harvested stands and uncut stands collected using pitfall traps both 2 and 3-years post-harvest. We hypothesized that partial cutting treatments would maintain assemblages that were more similar to uncut stands than to clear cuts. We further hypothesized that among partial cuts the multicohort harvested stands, with relatively high levels of retention (66%), would maintain beetle assemblages that were more similar to uncut stands than would shelterwoods, which had lower levels of retention (50%). We collected 6692 individuals, representing 42 species. Catch rates of beetles were similar among all harvested treatments (shelterwood, multicohort and clear cuts) and lower than uncut stands. Species richness and composition was similar between shelterwood and multicohort stands. Both partial cut treatments fell between clear cuts and uncut stands in terms of species richness and compositional similarity. Compositional differences between uncut stands and partial cut stands were defined primarily by reduced abundances of forest associated species such as Agonum retractum (LeConte), Synuchus impunctatus (Say) and four Pterostichus species within partial cuts. Within partial cuts, beetle assemblages differed between machine corridors with 0% retention and adjacent partial cut strips (50% retention) and uncut vegetation corridors (100%). We conclude that both shelterwoods and multicohort harvesting stands provide at least initially similar benefits for biodiversity compared to clear cutting although neither maintains assemblages consistent with those found in uncut stands. We expect that these similarities will end once trees are removed from shelterwoods. The reductions in abundances within partial cuts may extend the time necessary for individual populations to increase to pre-harvest levels in partial cuts. For land-managers, similar initial responses of beetle assemblages in multicohort and shelterwood harvests may permit some flexibility for conservation planning whereby final removal of seed trees within shelterwoods could be delayed depending on the status of recovering beetle populations.