Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 2149–2165 | Cite as

A decade of change in the saproxylic beetle fauna of eucalypt logs in the Warra long-term log-decay experiment, Tasmania. 1. Description of the fauna and seasonality patterns

  • Simon J. GroveEmail author
  • Lynette Forster
Original Paper


The first decade of sequential and cyclical sampling of saproxylic beetles by means of eclector traps on 12 freshly-felled Eucalyptus obliqua logs at Warra, Tasmania has allowed documentation of a taxonomically and ecologically diverse fauna present in such logs in their early decompositional state. About half of all species are apparently undescribed—a much higher proportion than in most temperate regions. The distribution of individuals among species is typically skewed, with most species being rare and few being common. Neither obligately nor facultatively saproxylic beetles dominate the fauna, but predators predominate over other larval feeding guilds, and—in accordance with ecological theory for early successional habitats—winged species predominate over functionally flightless species. There is some suggestion that trophic structure changed over the period of the study, with the proportion of functionally flightless species increasing. The fauna shows strong seasonality. While the summer months represent the peak of occurrence for most species (in keeping with the cool-temperate climate), every month has its own particular complement of species, such that a strong seasonal cycle in assemblage composition is apparent throughout the year. The timings of emergence peaks vary among the years represented in this study by up to 2 months, with the year of latest emergence corresponding to that with the lowest mean annual maximum temperature; no signature of climate change is evident in the data-set.


Saproxylic beetles Tasmania Australia Long-term ecological research Trophic structure Seasonality 



The Warra log-decay experiment was initiated in August 1999 with 3 years of funding from the Australian Research Council (C19906735). Rob Taylor (formerly Forestry Tasmania) oversaw the project formulation and design, while Caroline Mohammed (formerly CSIRO), Tim Wardlaw (FT), Alastair Richardson (formerly University of Tasmania) and Dave deLittle (formerly North Forest Products) were all involved in its early implementation. Dick Bashford (FT) designed and constructed the eclectors and carried out much other groundwork and sample collection, ably assisted (at different times) by Andy Muirhead, Billy Burton, Nita Ramsden and Alison Phillips (all FT). At FT, Belinda Yaxley, Bron Appleby and the authors of this paper (primarily LF) sorted most of the samples and mounted most of the beetles, while Marie Yee assisted the authors of this paper (primarily LF) in identifying them. Tim Wardlaw and two anonymous referees kindly provided useful comments on previous drafts of this paper.

Supplementary material

10531_2011_79_MOESM1_ESM.doc (178 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 179 kb)


  1. Alcorn PJ, Dingle JK, Hickey JE (2001) Age and stand structure in a multi-aged wet eucalypt forest at the Warra silvicultural systems trial. Tasforests 13:245–260Google Scholar
  2. Baker SB, Grove SJ, Forster L, Bonham KJ, Bashford D (2009) Short-term responses of ground-active beetles to alternative silvicultural systems in the Warra Silvicultural Systems Trial, Tasmania, Australia. For Ecol Manag 258:444–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baur B, Coray A, Minoretti N, Zschokke S (2005) Dispersal of the endangered flightless beetle Dorcadion fuliginator (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in spatially realistic landscapes. Biol Conserv 124:49–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brunet J, Isacsson G (2009) Influence of snag characteristics on saproxylic beetle assemblages in a south Swedish beech forest. J Insect Conserv 13:515–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clarke AR, Shohet D, Patel VS, Madden JL (1998) Overwintering sites of Chrysophtharta bimaculata (Olivier) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in commercially managed Eucalyptus obliqua forests. Aust J Entomol 37:149–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Commonwealth of Australia (1997) Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement. Commonwealth of Australia, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  7. Grove SJ (2002) Saproxylic insect ecology and the sustainable management of forests. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grove SJ, Bashford R (2003) Beetle assemblages from the Warra log decay project: insights from the first year of sampling. Tasforests 14:117–129Google Scholar
  9. Grove SJ, Forster L (2011) A decade of change in the saproxylic beetle fauna of eucalypt logs in the Warra long-term log-decay experiment, Tasmania. 2. Log-size effects, succession, and the functional significance of rare species. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-011-0080-6
  10. Grove SJ, Meggs J (2003) Coarse woody debris biodiversity and management: a review with particular reference to Tasmanian wet eucalypt forests. Aust For 66:258–272Google Scholar
  11. Grove S, Bashford R, Yee M (2009a) A long-term experimental study of saproxylic beetle (Coleoptera) succession in Tasmanian Eucalyptus obliqua logs: findings from the first five years. In: Fattorini S (ed) Insect ecology and conservation. Research Signpost, Trivandrum, pp 71–114Google Scholar
  12. Grove SJ, Stamm L, Barry C (2009b) Log decomposition rates in Tasmanian Eucalyptus obliqua determined using an indirect chronosequence approach. For Ecol Manag 258:389–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hammond HEJ (1997) Arthropod biodiversity from Populus coarse woody material in north-central Alberta—a review of taxa and collection methods. Can Entomol 129:1009–1033CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harmon ME, Franklin JF, Swanson FJ, Sollins P, Gregory SV, Lattin JD, Anderson NH, Cline SP, Aumen NG, Lienkaemper GW, Cromack KJ, Cummins KW (1986) Ecology of coarse woody debris in temperate ecosystems. Adv Ecol Res 15:133–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson WD (1968) Fire, air, water and earth—an elemental ecology of Tasmania. Proc Ecol Soc Aust 3:9–16Google Scholar
  16. Janzen D (1973) Sweep samples of tropical foliage insects: description of study sites, with data on species abundances and size distributions. Ecology 54:660–665Google Scholar
  17. Johansson T, Hjältén J, Gibb H, Hilszczanski J, Stenlid J, Ball JP, Alinvi O, Danell K (2007) Variable response of different functional groups of saproxylic beetles to substrate manipulation and forest management: implications for conservation strategies. For Ecol Manag 242:496–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kappes H, Topp W (2004) Emergence of Coleoptera from deadwood in a managed broadleaved forest in central Europe. Biodivers Conserv 13:1905–1924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kitching RL (2006) Crafting the pieces of the diversity jigsaw puzzle. Science 313:1055–1057PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Langor DW, Hammond HEJ, Spence JR, Jacobs J, Cobb TP (2008) Saproxylic insect assemblages in Canadian forests: diversity, ecology and conservation. Can Entomol 140:453–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lawrence JF, Britton EB (1994) Australian beetles. Melbourne University Press, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  22. Lieutier F, Ghaioule D (2005) Entomological research in Mediterranean forest ecosystems. INRA, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Lieutier F, Day KR, Battisti A, Gregoire J-C, Evans HF (2004) Bark and wood boring insects in living trees in Europe, a synthesis. Springer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lindenmayer DB, Franklin JF (2002) Conserving forest biodiversity: a comprehensive multiscaled approach. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  25. Lindhe A, Lindelow A (2004) Cut high stumps of spruce, birch, aspen and oak as breeding substrates for saproxylic beetles. For Ecol Manag 203:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McCune B, Mefford MJ (2006) PC-ORD. Multivariate Analysis of Ecological Data, version 5.31. MjM Software Design, Gleneden BeachGoogle Scholar
  27. Müller J, Hothorn T, Pretzsch H (2007) Long-term effects of logging intensity on structures, birds, saproxylic beetles and wood-inhabiting fungi in stands of European beech Fagus sylvatica. For Ecol Manag 242:297–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Novotný V, Basset Y (2000) Rare species in communities of tropical insect herbivores: pondering the mystery of singletons. Oikos 89:564–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pianka ER (1970) On r and K selection. Am Nat 104:592–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pimm SI (1977) Number of trophic levels in ecological communities. Nature 268:329–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Price PW, Diniz IR, Morais HR, Marques ESA (1995) The abundance of insect herbivore species in the tropics: the high local richness of rare species. Biotropica 27:468–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Saint-Germain M, Drapeau P, Buddle CM (2007) Host-use patterns of saproxylic phloeophagous and xylophagous Coleoptera adults and larvae along the decay gradient in standing dead black spruce and aspen. Ecography 30:737–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schiegg K (2001) Saproxylic insect diversity of beech: limbs are richer than trunks. For Ecol Manag 149:295–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schmuki C, Vorburger C, Runciman D, MacEachern S, Sunnucks P (2006) When log-dwellers meet loggers: impacts of forest fragmentation on two endemic log-dwelling beetles in southeastern Australia. Mol Ecol 15:1481–1492PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Siitonen J (2001) Forest management, coarse woody debris and saproxylic organisms: Fennoscandian boreal forests as an example. Ecol Bull 49:11–42Google Scholar
  36. Southwood TRE (1977) Habitat, the templet for ecological strategies? J Anim Ecol 46:337–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stearns SC (1977) The evolution of life-history traits: a critique of the theory and a review of the data. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 8:145–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stork NE, Grimbacher PS, Storey R, Oberprieler R, Reid C, Slipinski SA (2008) What determines whether a species of insect is described? Evidence from a study of tropical forest beetles. Insect Conserv Divers 1:114–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Turner PAM, Balmer J, Kirkpatrick JB (2009) Stand-replacing wildfires? The incidence of multi-aged and even-aged Eucalyptus regnans and E obliqua forests in southern Tasmania. For Ecol Manag 258:366–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ulyshen MD, Hanula JL (2010) Patterns of saproxylic beetle succession in loblolly pine. Agric For Entomol 12:187–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vanderwel MC, Malcolm JR, Smith SA, Islam N (2006) Insect community composition and trophic guild structure in decaying logs from eastern Canadian pine-dominated forests. For Ecol Manag 225:190–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wikars LO, Sahlin E, Ranius T (2005) A comparison of three methods to estimate species richness of saproxylic beetles (Coleoptera) in logs and high stumps of Norway spruce. Can Entomol 137:304–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wolda H (1992) Trends in the abundance of tropical forest insects. Oecologia 89:47–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Woldendorp G, Keenan RJ (2005) Coarse woody debris in Australian forest ecosystems: a review. Austral Ecol 30:834–843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Woldendorp G, Keenan RJ, Barry S, Spencer RD (2004) Analysis of sampling methods for coarse woody debris. For Ecol Manag 198:133–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yeates DK, Harvey MS, Austin AD (2003) New estimates for terrestrial arthropod species-richness in Australia. Rec S Aust Mus Monogr Ser 7:231–241Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Forest Research and DevelopmentForestry TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.School of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations