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Conserv Biol. 2006 Dec;20(6):1711-9.

Fire and green-tree retention in conservation of red-listed and rare deadwood-dependent beetles in Finnish boreal forests.

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  • 1Faculty of Forest Sciences, University of Joensuu, P.O. Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland.


Habitat loss, fragmentation, and declining habitat quality have created an extinction debt in boreal forests, which could be partly reversed by deliberately improving the habitat quality in managed areas outside reserves. We studied the effects of green-tree retention and controlled burning on red-listed and rare, deadwood-dependent (saproxylic) beetles in a large-scale field experiment in eastern Finland. Our factorial study design included 24 sites dominated by Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and with three levels of green-tree retention (0, 10, and 50 m3/ha) and uncut controls. Twelve of the 24 sites were burned in 2001. We sampled beetles with 10 flight-intercept traps on each site during the years 2000-2002 (i.e., 1 pretreatment and 2 post-treatment years). A total sample of 153,449 individuals representing 1,160 beetle species yielded 2,107 specimens of 84 red-listed or rare saproxylic species. The richness of these species was higher on the burned than on the unburned sites, and higher levels of green-tree retention promoted species richness, but there were clear differences between the years. The richness of red-listed and rare saproxylic species increased in the first post-treatment year, evidently due to the treatments, continued to increase on the burned sites in the second post-treatment year, but decreased on the unburned sites. Our results showed that the living conditions of many red-listed and rare saproxylic species could be improved significantly with rather simple alterations to forest management methods. Controlled burning with high levels of green-tree retention creates resources for many saproxylic species, but increasing the levels of green-tree retention in unburned areas can also be beneficial.

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