Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 3193–3211 | Cite as

Mimicking natural disturbances of boreal forests: the effects of controlled burning and creating dead wood on beetle diversity

  • Tero ToivanenEmail author
  • Janne S. Kotiaho
Original Paper


The young successional stages of boreal forests are an important habitat for many saproxylic species. These habitats are formed by disturbances such as forest fires and they are characterized by large volumes of dead wood and sun-exposed conditions. Today, young successional stages of natural origin are very rare in Fennoscandia and there is need for restoration. We constructed a large-scale field experiment in which we studied the effects of two restoration practices on beetle diversity: controlled burning and partial harvesting with creating different volumes of dead wood. We sampled beetles with flight-intercept traps recording a total of 56,031 individuals and 755 species. The species richness and abundance of both saproxylic and non-saproxylic beetles were increased by burning and harvesting but the volume of dead wood created on harvested sites had no short-term effect on species richness or abundance. Rare species, especially saproxylic ones, preferred burned sites and a similar trend was observed among red-listed and pyrophilous species. Burning and harvesting also resulted in different species assemblages and there were some additional differences according to the volume of dead wood. We conclude that fire can be successfully used in restoration of managed boreal forests to increase species diversity and to facilitate the recovery of declined species. However, long-term monitoring is needed to clarify the effects of the restoration practices, in particular those of creating dead wood without using fire.


Coleoptera Decaying wood Forest fire Restoration Saproxylic species 



The experiment was established by the FIRE (Fire Implications of Restoration Ecology) project of the Department of Forest Ecology of the University of Helsinki, and we thank especially Timo Kuuluvainen, Saara Lilja and Pasi Puttonen for co-operation. The treatments were conducted by the land-owners and the burning activities were helped by several students and volunteers. Jarno Nevalainen carried out a large part of beetle identification and Jaakko Mattila was great help in the identification of difficult specimens. Veli Liikanen helped in the field and sorted the material for identification with Satu Kuntsi and Elina Manninen. Juha Siitonen helped in the classification of beetles and was also involved in planning the sampling design. Mikko Mönkkönen and Jussi Päivinen gave valuable comments on the manuscript. The research was funded by Otto A. Malm’s Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri’s Foundation, the MOSSE research programme of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Academy of Finland through the Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Natural History MuseumUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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