Uneven-aged silviculture may better maintain species assemblages associated with old-growth forests than clear felling in part due to habitat heterogeneity created by maintaining standing retention strips adjacent to harvest trails. Retention strips and harvest trails created at the time of tree removal will likely have different microclimate and may harbor different assemblages. In some cases, the resultant stand heterogeneity associated with uneven-aged silviculture may be similar to natural small-scale disturbances. For beetles, increased light and temperature as well as potential access to young vegetation and deadwood substrates present in harvset trails may harbor beetle assemblages similar to those found in natural gaps. We sampled saproxylic beetles using flight intercept traps placed in harvest corridors and retention strips in 9 replicated uneven-aged spruce stands in central Sweden. We compared abundance, species richness and composition between harvest corridors and retention strips using generalized linear models, rarefaction, permutational multivariate analysis of variance and indicator species analysis. Canopy openness doubled, mean temperature and variability in daily temperature increased and humidity decreased on harvest trails. Beetle richness and abundance were greater in harvests trails than in retention strips and the beetle species composition differed significantly between habitats. Twenty-five species were associated with harvest trails, including three old-growth specialists such as Agathidium discoideum (Erichson), currently red-listed. We observed only one species, Xylechinus pilosus (Ratzeburg) that strongly favored retention strips. Harvest trails foster both open habitat species and old-growth species while retention strips harbored forest interior specialists. The combination of closed canopy, stratified forest in the retention strips and gap-like conditions on the harvest trails thus increases overall species richness and maintains more diverse assemblages at the stand level than would otherwise be seen in less heterogeneous stand types. This suggests that uneven-aged silviculture may provide added conservation benefits for both open habitat and old-growth specialists than silvicultural approaches that reduce stand heterogeneity.
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