Biodiversity benefits for saproxylic beetles with uneven-aged silviculture.
Joakim Hjältén, Klara Joelsson, Héloïse Gibb, Timothy Work, Therese Löfroth, Jean-Michel Roberge.
Large scale use of even-aged silviculture (clear-cutting) commencing in the mid-20th century has had negative impacts on forest biodiversity. As a consequence, uneven-aged silviculture is currently being considered to help meet the ecological and social criteria required for sustainable forest management. Uneven-aged silviculture (e.g. selective felling) involves selective removal of some older trees in a stand which may to some extent mimics natural small scale stand dynamics and thus potentially benefit species associated with old forests. Here we test whether selective felling benefits beetle biodiversity by producing beetle assemblages that better resemble those of old growth stands than those found in uncut production stands. We conducted a field study in northern Sweden, comparing beetles assemblages collected with window traps in three spruce dominated stand types: (1) Stands recently (on average 7 years prior to the study) subjected to selective felling (Selective felling), (2) mature uneven-aged stands without recent history of management, resembling selective felling stands prior to management (Uncut), and (3) old-growth stands with high conservation values (Old growth). As predicted, we found that assemblage composition was similar in selective felling and old growth stands, and that assemblages of cambivores and obligate saproxylics (marginally significant) differed between these two stand types and uncut stands. The differences were largely explained by a higher abundance of saproxylic species presumably associated with old growth conditions and large volumes of deadwood. Thus, although overall assemblage composition did not differ between stand types, part of the beetle community seemingly benefited from selective felling. We therefore recommend that selective felling is considered as an alternative to clear-felling to maintain biodiversity values.