Hollow oaks and beetle conservation: the significance of the surroundings
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In this study we investigated hollow oaks (Quercus robur, Q. petrea) situated in open landscapes and in forests in Norway in northern Europe, and compared their importance for rare and threatened beetles (Coleoptera). Old, hollow oak trees, both in parks and in forests, were extremely rich in red-listed beetles, and hosted a high proportion of threatened species. The proportion of oak associated species and the mean number of red-listed beetle species per tree was similar in the two site types, but rarefaction showed that for a certain number of individuals, oaks in forests had more threatened and near-threatened species than oaks in parks. The species composition also differed between site types: Park oaks had a higher proportion of species associated with hollows and animal nests, whereas in forests, there was a higher proportion of species depending on dead oak wood in general. Four factors were significant in explaining the richness of red-listed beetles in our study: Tree circumference, cavity decay stage, proportion of oak in the surroundings, and coarse woody debris (CWD) in the surroundings. Forest oaks were smaller, but they still trapped a species richness comparable to that of the larger park oaks—probably a result of high amounts of CWD in the surroundings. We show that oaks in open landscapes and oaks in forest have only partly overlapping beetle assemblages and, thus, cannot be substituted in conservation. Planning for conservation of red-listed beetles associated with this key habitat demands a large scale perspective, both in space and time, as the surroundings have important effects on associated threatened and near threatened species.
KeywordsColeoptera Beetles Diversity Red-listed species Oak Quercus Cavity Surroundings Forest Park
This study was funded by the government-initiated “National Program for Surveys and Monitoring of Biodiversity—Threatened species”, by the Norwegian Research Council through the project “Red Lists—from fundament to management” under the Strategic Institute Program “Research tools for management 2010”, and by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. The authors would like to thank Oddvar Hanssen and Knut Olav Fossestøl for field assistance.
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