Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 3–4, pp 607–625 | Cite as

The diversity of saproxylic insects (Coleoptera, Heteroptera) on four tree species of the Hyrcanian forest in Iran

  • Jörg Müller
  • Hassan Barimani Varandi
  • Mohammad Reza Babaii
  • Mohammad Ebrahim Farashiani
  • Khosro Sageb-Talebi
  • Frank Lange
  • Martin M. Gossner
  • Andrea Jarzabek-Müller
  • Nicolas Roth
  • Simon Thorn
  • Sebastian Seibold


In Central European temperate forests, the host tree identity is one factor that determines the diversity of saproxylic organisms. These forests have been affected by humans for millennia, in contrast to the Hyrcanian forests south of the Caspian Sea, with their numerous old-growth features and endemic species. How the tree host species in this temperate relict of Tertiary forests affects saproxylic biodiversity is unknown, as an inventory of the saproxylic fauna present is incomplete, and new species are still being described. To analyze the importance of four dominant tree species in this region (Fagus orientalis, Quercus castaneifolia, Alnus subcordata, and Carpinus betulus), we sampled saproxylic beetles and true bugs with flight-interception traps at five dead trees per host species. We identified 361 beetle and 7 true bug species; of these, 268 were saproxylic, 56 were endemic, 11 were Central European “primeval-forest relicts”, and at least 16 species were undescribed. Rarefaction-extrapolation curves indicated higher species richness of saproxylic beetles and true bugs on F. orientalis and C. betulus than on A. subcordata and Q. castaneifolia, but ordination showed that communities were most distinct on Q. castaneifolia. Higher species richness on C. betulus and F. orientalis compared to Q. castaneifolia was unexpected based on literature but is in line with recent findings of experimental studies from Central Europe. Our results underline previous findings on the importance of moribund trees and dead wood in the Hyrcanian forests, and thereby support current efforts of Iranian authorities to stop the removal of veteran trees. The complementary fauna on oak trees compared to the other three tree species illustrates the importance of fragments of the almost destroyed oak forests along the coastline for forest biodiversity conservation in the Hyrcanian region.


Fagus Quercus Carpinus Alnus Dead wood Veteran trees Biodiversity Conservation 



We thank numerous experts for their support in species identification, namely Vladimír Novák (Alleculinae), Heiko Gebhardt (Scolytinae), Peter Sprick and Lutz Behne (Curculionidae), Mikhail Danilevsky (Cerambycidae), Dirk Rohwedder (Cetoniidae), Volker Assing (Staphylinidae), Wolfgang H. Rücker (Latridiidae), Marcin Kadej (Dermestidae), Johannes Reibnitz (Ciidae), Isidor Plonski (Melyridae), Ivan Löbl (Scaphidiidae), Jens Esser (Cryptophagidae), Boris Büche (Anobiinae, Dorcatominae, Ernobiinae, Eucradinae, Ptilinae), Alexander G. Kirejtshuk (Nitidulidae), and Rüdiger Peschel (Histeridae). This study was conducted as part of the collaboration project “The diversity of dead-wood-related organisms in Hyrcanian forests” between the Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands (Iran), Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany), and University of Würzburg (Germany).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving animals

All work was carried out with the full consent of Iranian authorities as part of the collaborative project collaboration project “The diversity of dead-wood-related organisms in Hyrcanian forests” between the Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands (Iran), Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany), and University of Würzburg (Germany).

Informed consent

No data were collected from human participants during this project.

Supplementary material

10841_2018_89_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1431 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Müller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hassan Barimani Varandi
    • 3
  • Mohammad Reza Babaii
    • 3
  • Mohammad Ebrahim Farashiani
    • 4
  • Khosro Sageb-Talebi
    • 4
  • Frank Lange
    • 5
  • Martin M. Gossner
    • 6
  • Andrea Jarzabek-Müller
    • 7
  • Nicolas Roth
    • 2
  • Simon Thorn
    • 2
  • Sebastian Seibold
    • 8
  1. 1.Bavarian Forest National ParkGrafenauGermany
  2. 2.Field Station Fabrikschleichach, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, BiocenterUniversity of WürzburgRauhenebrachGermany
  3. 3.Mazandaran Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education CentreSariIran
  4. 4.Research Institute of Forests and RangelandsAgricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO)TehranIran
  5. 5.Oberseelbacher Straße 22BNiedernhausenGermany
  6. 6.Forest EntomologySwiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  7. 7.RiedlhütteGermany
  8. 8.Terrestrial Ecology Research GroupTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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