The Importance of Dead-Wood Amount for Saproxylic Insects and How It Interacts with Dead-Wood Diversity and Other Habitat Factors

  • Sebastian Seibold
  • Simon Thorn
Part of the Zoological Monographs book series (ZM, volume 1)


Natural amounts of dead wood in a forest vary considerably, depending on living tree biomass, decomposition rates, and rates of dead-wood development. In natural forests, dead wood is created by the senescence of trees and natural disturbances. However, dead-wood amounts in many forest ecosystems worldwide nowadays are largely influenced by human activities, such as timber and fuel wood production and post-disturbance salvage logging. The biodiversity of saproxylic insects is usually positively correlated with the amount of dead wood, and dead-wood amount affects species composition and functional characteristics of saproxylic assemblages. Dead-wood amount is in turn correlated with dead-wood diversity, and several studies highlight the importance of dead-wood diversity for saproxylic biodiversity, which suggests that habitat heterogeneity is a major driver behind the positive relationship between dead-wood amount and biodiversity. The strength of this relationship is mediated by temperature. Effects of both temporal forest continuity and spatial connectivity are often linked to differences in dead-wood amount. Frequent interactions and correlations between dead-wood amount and other habitat factors indicate that future studies should aim more precisely at unraveling the importance of individual factors for saproxylic biodiversity, which will help to improve conservation strategies to counteract negative effects of anthropogenically altered dead-wood amount and diversity. Such conservation strategies, particularly in Europe and North America, include passive and active measures to retain dead wood in managed forests and to restore amounts and diversity of dead wood similar to levels in natural forests. More research is needed in the subtropics and tropics where conservation strategies rarely consider dead wood, although the few existing studies suggest that dead wood is an important factor for biodiversity in these regions.


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© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection.  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Seibold
    • 1
  • Simon Thorn
    • 2
  1. 1.Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Field Station Fabrikschleichach, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, BiocenterUniversity of WürzburgRauhenebrachGermany

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