Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3035–3059 | Cite as

Increased openness around retained oaks increases species richness of saproxylic beetles

  • Maria Koch Widerberg
  • Thomas Ranius
  • Igor Drobyshev
  • Urban Nilsson
  • Matts Lindbladh
Original Paper


The decrease of old deciduous trees in northern Europe is a threat to the saproxylic fauna. In northern Europe, oak sustains the highest richness of saproxylic invertebrates, among which beetles is a large group. In order to preserve species associated with old trees, it has become common practice in commercial forestry to retain such trees at final felling. However, to create beneficial conditions for species associated with retained trees, the surrounding plantation has to be managed with regard to their specific demands. In the case of oak-associated species, including many red-listed species, several studies have shown that light is an important factor. The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of increased openness around oaks (Quercus robur) in spruce plantations (Picea abies) on species richness and abundance of oak-associated saproxylic beetles. The study was performed in nine spruce plantations located in southern Sweden, with mature oaks standing in a gradient of canopy openness. Beetles were collected from 54 oaks from May to September during two seasons, using window traps. The analyses revealed that increased openness around oaks increases species richness and abundance of oak-associated beetles. By including insolation angle in the analysis, we found that it is mainly the degree of openness directed south from the oak that has positive effects on beetle richness. These findings imply that it is desirable to maintain an open area around retained oaks, and that this area should be placed on the southern side of the oak to maximize the biodiversity benefit in relation to costs for the forest owner.


Retention trees Canopy openness Coleoptera Saproxylic Quercus Management 



This research was funded by Stiftelsen Skogssällskapet and SLU. Thomas Ranius part of the work was financed by Future Forests (supported by the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA), the Swedish Forestry Industry, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå University, and the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden) and Stiftelsen Skogssällskapet. We would like to thank the forest managers; Magnus Roth at Johannnishus Godsförvaltning AB, Rappe Family at Strömsrum, Peter Wallin at Boxholms Skogar AB, Tony Andreasson at Baroniet Adelswärd AB, Gisela Björse at Sveaskog, and Ulf Johansson at Tönnersjöheden Experimental Forest, SLU. We also want to thank Rickard Andersson (formerly Baranowski), Höör, Sweden, for species determination and for valuable comments on the biology of saproxylic beetles. We are also grateful to Emma Holmström, SLU, and Göran Snygg at SLU, for field and lab work, and Ülo Roop and Jakob Lindbladh for field and lab assistance. At last, we thank Marcus Widerberg for improving the manuscript language.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Koch Widerberg
    • 1
  • Thomas Ranius
    • 2
  • Igor Drobyshev
    • 1
    • 3
  • Urban Nilsson
    • 1
  • Matts Lindbladh
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Swedish Forest Research CentreSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden
  2. 2.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Chaire industrielle CRSNG-UQAT-UQAM en aménagement forestier durableUniversité du Québec en Abitibi-TémiscamingueRouyn-NorandaCanada

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