• bryophytes;
  • coarse woody debris;
  • epixylic;
  • lichens;
  • variable retention;
  • vascular plants

We studied the effects of patch retention felling and soil scarification by harrowing on the coverage and species richness of epixylic species in boreal Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests in Southern Finland. The epixylics were investigated from both the retention tree groups (RTGs) and the surrounding felling areas before and after fellings and after scarification on consecutive years. The cover percentage of all included species groups was shown to decrease after the felling, especially in the felling areas (vascular plants, −0.4%; mosses, −27.8%; liverworts, −4.0%; and lichens,−2.1%). The decrease was considerable also in the RTGs. The amount of dead moss increased in both the areas indicating microclimatic changes. Species richness also declined rapidly after the first year, especially in the felling areas (vascular plants, −2.2%; mosses, −27.3%; liverworts, −30.3%; and lichens, −22.9%). Scarification also decreases covers and species richness of bryophytes. After the second year, the covers of the species groups generally started to regain, especially in the untreated RTGs. The size of RTG was in positive correlation with the total species number. Another main result indicates that it is possible to maintain much higher initial vegetation abundance and diversity in the RTGs than in the felling areas. Coarse woody debris formed by the frequent tree uprootings may also enhance the long-term survival of epixylics over forest regeneration period. RTGs should be at least 10 times larger than the size used in current Finnish forestry, so that they could function as species refugia.