Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1703–1740 | Cite as

Responses of insect pollinators and understory plants to silviculture in northern hardwood forests

  • Eleanor Proctor
  • Erica Nol
  • Dawn Burke
  • William J. Crins
Original Paper


Communities of flower flies (Diptera: Syrphidae), bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea), and flowering plants were compared between harvested and unharvested hardwood stands in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Group-selection silviculture (where groups of trees are removed from a forested matrix, rather than single trees), increased the abundance of pollinators and flowering stems, but only after leaf-out. Wild red raspberry (Rubus strigosus) and bees benefitted most from the creation of canopy gaps. The combination of increased light, warm, bare soils, and abundant nectar-rich raspberry flowers probably created ideal habitat for soil-nesting bees, factors which are relatively absent from unharvested stands. By contrast, before leaf-out, spring ephemerals and high light-levels were universal and pollinators were even across treatments. More pollinators were caught in canopy gaps than in forested areas, and the proportion of fertilized ovules of spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) was higher in gaps than in the forest, suggesting that pollinators prefer foraging in gaps, even in spring. Group-selection silviculture in hardwood forests proved beneficial to native pollinating insects, at least in the short-term.


Apoidea Bees Claytonia caroliniana Floral understory Group-selection silviculture Hardwood forest Rubus strigosus Spring ephemeral Syrphidae 



Analysis of variance


Group-selection silviculture


Permutational multivariate analysis of variance


Multi-dimensional scaling


Permanent growth plot


Regeneration growth plot


Standard error



We would like to thank Dr. Cory Sheffield and Dr. Jason Gibbs for identifying the bees and Andrew Young for identifying our unknown Platycheirus. Dr. Doug Tozer, Karla Falk, Rhiannon Leshyk, Emony Nichols, Gillian Humphries, and Hugo Kitching helped in the field. Funding was provided by the National Science and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Pollination Initiative, for which this is publication No. 43. In-kind support was provided by Algonquin Forestry Authority, Bancroft-Minden Forest Co., Canadian Forest Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, Enhanced Forest Productivity Science Program, Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc., Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ottawa Valley Forest Inc., Tembec Inc., Trent University, and Westwind Forest Stewardship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleanor Proctor
    • 1
  • Erica Nol
    • 1
  • Dawn Burke
    • 2
  • William J. Crins
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Ministry of Natural ResourcesLondonCanada
  3. 3.Ontario Ministry of Natural ResourcesPeterboroughCanada

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