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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity;
  • forest management;
  • legacy retention;
  • standing deadwood

Abstract.

1. Intensive forestry has drastically reduced the volume of standing deadwood, even more than total deadwood volume. It has been demonstrated in boreal forests that snags have a high conservation value for many saproxylic species and that the lying or standing aspect of the deadwood makes a difference. The conservation of saproxylic beetles in the changing deadwood landscape of temperate managed forests depends on a deeper understanding of the ecological value of forest stand legacies.

2. Our study questioned whether the retention of oak snags is an important conservation concern in European temperate forests. We analysed the differences in saproxylic beetle fauna between oak snags and logs and explored the diameter effect on log–snag differences. We compared the species composition and richness of saproxylic beetle assemblages in a temperate deciduous forest. Emergence traps were set in a balanced sampling design of 22 ground-lying logs and 22 oak snags with a range of intermediate decay stages and 2 diameter classes.

3. Oak snags yielded more individuals per volume unit and supported more species than logs, and exhibited significantly dissimilar assemblages from logs and hosted original species. Snags, especially large snags, were more interesting for rare beetle species conservation than logs. The feeding guild structure slightly differed between snags and logs. Overall, log–snag differences depended on the diameter class.

4. We confirm that saproxylic biodiversity would significantly benefit from forestry measures favouring oak snag retention (especially large snags), even though further multi-scale studies are necessary to develop quantitative retention guidelines.