Effects of landscape composition and substrate availability on saproxylic beetles in boreal forests: a study using experimental logs for monitoring assemblages


  • Heloise Gibb,

  • Joakim Hjältén,

  • John P. Ball,

  • Ola Atlegrim,

  • Roger B. Pettersson,

  • Jacek Hilszczański,

  • Therese Johansson,

  • Kjell Danell

H. Gibb (heloise.gibb@szooek.slu.se), J. Hjältén, J. P. Ball, O. Atlegrim, R. B. Pettersson, T. Johansson and K. Danell, Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences, Dept of Animal Ecology, SE-901 83, Umeå, Sweden. – Jacek Hilszczański, Forest Research Inst., Dept of Forest Protection, PL-00-973 Warsaw, Poland.


Intensive forestry practises in the Swedish landscape have led to the loss and fragmentation of stable old-growth habitats. We investigated relationships between landscape composition at multiple scales and the composition of saproxylic beetle assemblages in nine clear-cut, mature managed and old-growth spruce-dominated forest stands in the central boreal zone of Sweden. We set out fresh spruce and birch logs and created spruce snags in 2001–2002 to experimentally test the effects of coarse woody debris (CWD) type and forest management on the composition of early and late successional, and red-listed saproxylic beetle assemblages. We examined effects of CWD availability at 100 m, and landscape composition at 1 and 10 km on saproxylic beetle abundances. Additionally, we tested whether assemblage similarity decreased with increasing distance between sites. We collected beetles from the experimental logs using eclector and window traps in four periods during 2003. CWD was measured and landscape composition data was obtained from maps of remotely sensed data. The composition of saproxylic beetles differed among different CWD substrates and between clear-cuts and the older stand types, however differences between mature managed and old-growth forests were significant only for red-listed species. Assemblage similarities for red-listed species on clear-cuts were more different at greater distances apart, indicating that they have more localised distributions. CWD availability within 100 m of the study sites was rarely important in determining the abundance of species, suggesting that early successional saproxylic beetles can disperse further than this distance. At a larger scale, a large area of suitable stand types within both 1 and 10 km resulted in greater abundances in the study sites for several common and habitat-specific species. The availability of suitable habitat at scales of 1–10 km is thus likely to be important in the survival of many saproxylic species in forestry-fragmented areas.