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The effects of green tree retention and subsequent prescribed burning on ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in boreal pine-dominated forests


  • Petri Martikainen,

  • Jari Kouki,

  • Osmo Heikkala

P. Martikainen, J. Kouki ( and O. Heikkala, Fac. of Forest Sciences, Univ. of Joensuu, PO Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland.


We studied how two methods to promote biodiversity in managed forests, i.e. green tree retention and prescribed fire, affect the assemblages of carabid beetles. Our experiment consisted of 24 study sites, each 3–5 ha in size, which had been prepared according to factorial design. Each of the eight treatment combinations determined by the two factors explored – tree retention level (0, 10, 50 m3/ha−1 and uncut controls) and prescribed use of fire (yes/no) – was replicated three times. We sampled carabids using pitfall traps one year after the treatments. Significantly more individuals were caught in most of the burned sites, but this difference was partially reflective of the trap-catches of Pterostichus adstrictus. The fire did not increase no. of P. adstrictus in the uncut sites as much as in the other sites. Species richness was significantly affected by both factors, being higher in the burned than in the unburned sites and in the harvested than in the unharvested sites. Many species were concentrated in the groups of retention trees in the burned sites, but only a few were in the unburned sites. The species turnover was greater in the burned than in the unburned sites, as indicated by the NMDS ordinations. Greater numbers of smaller sized species and proportion of brachypterous species were present in the burned sites. Fire-favored species, and also the majority of other species that prefer open habitats were more abundantly caught in the burned sites than in the unburned sites. Dead wood or logging waste around the traps did not correlate with the occurrence of species. We conclude that carabids are well adapted to disturbances, and that frequent use of prescribed fire is essential for the maintenance of natural assemblages of carabid beetles in the boreal forest. Small retention tree groups can not maintain assemblages of uncut forest, but they can be important by providing food, shelter and breeding sites for many species, particularly in the burned sites.