, Volume 20, Issue 13, pp 2917-2932
Date: 05 Aug 2011

Biodiversity conservation in old-growth boreal forest: black spruce and balsam fir snags harbour distinct assemblages of saproxylic beetles

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Abstract

Biodiversity conservation of forest ecosystems strongly relies on effective dead wood management. However, the responses of saproxylic communities to variations in dead wood characteristics remains poorly documented, a lack of knowledge that may impede the development of efficient management strategies. We established the relationship between saproxylic beetles—at the species and community levels—and attributes of black spruce and balsam fir in old-growth boreal forests. The relationship was first evaluated for individual snag bole segments, and then for forest stands. A total of 168 bole sections were collected in summer 2006 along a compositional gradient ranging from black spruce-dominated stands to balsam fir-dominated ones, in a boreal forest dominated by >90-year-old stands. A total of 16,804 beetles belonging to 47 species emerged from bole segments, with 21% of the species being found exclusively in black spruce snags and 36% exclusively in balsam fir snags. Black spruce and balsam fir snags thus contributed differently to forest biodiversity by being inhabited by different saproxylic communities. Wood density was an important attribute in the host-use patterns for several species of saproxylic beetles, but no relationship was found between snag availability within stands and abundance of beetles strongly linked to either black spruce or balsam fir. Our study outlines the relative contribution of tree compositional diversity to saproxylic species, while highlighting the contribution of black spruce and balsam fir to animal diversity in old-growth boreal forests.