Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 215–224 | Cite as

Response of Orthoptera communities to succession in alluvial pine woodlands

  • Felix Helbing
  • Tim Peter Blaeser
  • Franz Löffler
  • Thomas Fartmann


During the past 150 years forest management has dramatically altered in Central European woodlands, with severe consequences for biodiversity. Light forests that fulfilled variable human demands were replaced by dark high forests that function solely as wood plantations. In the Alps, by contrast, open woodlands are still present because the traditional land use as wood pasture has remained and physiographical conditions favour natural dynamics. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of succession on the Orthoptera communities of alluvial pine woodlands in the northern Alps. Orthoptera showed a clear response to succession, with each successional stage harbouring a unique assemblage. The influence of succession on species richness and abundance were identical: The values were highest in the intermediate and lowest in the late seral stage. The diversity and abundance peak in the mid-successional stage probably reflects a trade-off between favourable ambient temperatures for optimal development and sufficient food, oviposition sites and shelter against predators. Food shortage and easy access for predators seemed to be limiting factors in the early successional stage. In contrast, in the late successional stage adverse microclimatic conditions probably limit Orthoptera occurrence. Although all three successional stages of the pine woodlands are relevant for conservation, the early and mid-successional stages are the most important ones. Conservation management for Orthoptera in this woodland type should aim at the reintroduction of cattle grazing and the restoration of the natural discharge and bedload-transport regimes of the alpine rivers.


Biodiversity conservation Disturbance ecology Forest management Floodplain Grasshopper Vegetation structure 



We are grateful to Wolfgang Kraus (Landratsamt Garmisch-Partenkirchen) for helpful information concerning the study area. Jan Beck and two anonymous reviewers made valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The Government of Upper Bavaria gave permission to conduct the study in the nature reserve “Karwendel und Karwendelvorgebirge”.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix Helbing
    • 1
  • Tim Peter Blaeser
    • 1
  • Franz Löffler
    • 1
  • Thomas Fartmann
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community Ecology, Institute of Landscape EcologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Division of Ecology, Department of Biology/ChemistryUniversity of OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany

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