Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 853–869 | Cite as

Influence of tree hollow characteristics on saproxylic beetle diversity in a managed forest

  • Bastian SchauerEmail author
  • Manuel J. Steinbauer
  • Lionel S. Vailshery
  • Jörg Müller
  • Heike Feldhaar
  • Elisabeth Obermaier
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


Tree hollows are key structures in forest ecosystems constituting long-lasting habitats and nutritional resources for many saproxylic arthropod species. Due to diverse microhabitat structures and conditions in tree hollows, they can support a broad range of species. However, in the past intensive management practices in parts of Europe reduced the abundance of tree hollows, resulting in a decrease and endangerment of species specialised in this tree habitat. We investigated 40 beech trees with hollows in 2014 and a subset of 23 of these trees in 2015 in a managed forest landscape in Germany. Using emergence traps we collected 89 beetle species of which 33% were on the Bavarian Red List. We described the tree characteristics, physical hollow characteristics, and their surrounding environment investigating their influence on α-diversity of non-Red List and Red List species. Furthermore, we investigated spatial (between tree hollows) and temporal (same tree hollow but different years) β-diversity, considering the importance of turnover and nestedness components on β-diversity. α-Diversity decreased with increasing decomposition of wood mould and increased with increasing area of hollow entrance in both years. Additional characteristics differed between years and between non-Red List and Red List species. β-Diversity was related to diameter at breast height, number of surrounding tree hollows, area of hollow entrance and a temperature gradient. We found a higher species turnover than nestedness between tree hollows and between years, indicating highly dynamic beetle communities spatially as well as temporally. To support and maintain the diversity of saproxylic beetles inhabiting tree hollows, the heterogeneity of microhabitats is important and should be supported by maintaining the diversity of differently structured and sized tree hollows.


Coleoptera Conservation Dead wood Keystone structure Threatened species Wood mould 



This Project was funded by Bayerische Forstverwaltung (LWF Project L56). We would like to thank Heinz Bußler for identifying the saproxylic beetles. We also thank Ulrich Mergner (Forest Department Ebrach) for providing information on locations of tree hollows and on characterising microhabitats. Additionally, we thank Christian Popp, Gitta Baeuerle, Julian Rieß, Juliane Huster and Lisa Heuss for collecting the data and installing the traps. MJS was partly supported by the Danish Carlsbergfondet (CF14-0148). LSV was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology I, Bayreuth Center for Ecology and Environmental Science (BayCEER)University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Section of Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityÅrhusDenmark
  3. 3.Field Station Fabrikschleichach, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, BiocenterUniversity of WürzburgRauhenebrachGermany
  4. 4.Department of Conservation and ResearchBavarian State Institute National ParkGrafenauGermany
  5. 5.Ecological-Botanical Garden of the University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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