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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity;
  • bio-indicator;
  • Carabidae;
  • forestry plantation;
  • ground beetles;
  • species abundance;
  • species diversity

Abstract.  Carabid beetles (Carabidae, Coleoptera) were sampled by pitfall trapping to determine the effects of plantation forest management on beetle abundance, diversity and community composition. Five habitats were chosen for study to represent the different environments created by the clear-fell and re-plant forestry cycle: clear-fell, new-plant, mixed (conifer and broadleaved) and mature stage conifer plantation. The results from these sites were compared with semi-natural deciduous woodland. Beetles were trapped for 6 weeks during June and July 2005. At each site, a range of environmental parameters were measured; soil pH, soil organic matter content, soil water content, percentage canopy cover, amount of dead wood, leaf-litter depth, tree species present, tree diameter at breast height and percentage cover of ground vegetation. These were used to interpret differences in carabid abundance, diversity and community assemblage. Beetle abundance was highest in the deciduous habitat, but species diversity was not significantly different between any of the sites, except the clear-fell habitat which was less diverse. Carabid community assemblages of forest specialist, forest generalist and open-habitat species were investigated. Only the broadleaved deciduous woodland contained large populations of forest specialist species. These results suggest inclusion of purely broadleaved stands in the forest landscape is necessary to maximise diversity at the landscape scale and enhance the overall conservation potential of managed forest land. Within habitats the amount of dead wood, number of tree species present, percentage canopy cover and leaf-litter depth were significant determinants of carabid abundance and diversity.