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Does a set-aside conservation strategy help the restoration of old-growth forest attributes and recolonization by saproxylic beetles?

Abstract : The decline of many saproxylic species results from the decrease in old-growth structures in European harvested forests. Among conservation tools, protected reserves withdrawn from regular harvesting and extended rotations have been employed to restore old-growth attributes in structurally simplified managed forests, even if the effects of such management actions on forest habitats and biodiversity remain largely unknown. In this study, we compared structural stand features and saproxylic beetle assemblages in two stand classes - recently harvested stands and long-established reserves, where less or more than thirty years had elapsed since last harvest. Habitat and saproxylic beetle data were collected according to standardized protocols in 153 plots in seven lowland deciduous forests. Tangible contrasts in stand features were found between long-established reserves and recently-harvested plots. Indeed, most higher-value densities and volumes were found in unharvested areas. The difference was weaker for microhabitat-bearing tree density than for deadwood; some deadwood features, such as volume of large downed and standing deadwood showed a very pronounced difference, thus indicating a marked deleterious effect of forest harvesting on these elements. Deadwood diversity, on the other hand, was only slightly affected and the level of stand openness did not change. The response of saproxylic beetles to delayed harvesting was weaker than the structural changes in deadwood features. Indeed even if only some guilds weakly increased in non-harvested plots, harvesting classes significantly affected the abundance of a quarter of the species tested. Our results tend to question measures such as rotating and temporarily ageing patches. We argue in favor of permanent strict fixed-location reserves. Future work should examine how stands recover old-growth forest attributes and how the associated saproxylic fauna colonises in the long-term.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02600034
Contributor : Migration Irstea Publications <>
Submitted on : Saturday, May 16, 2020 - 3:54:50 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 15, 2021 - 10:02:06 AM

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Christophe Bouget, G. Parmain, Olivier Gilg, Thierry Noblecourt, B. Nusillard, et al.. Does a set-aside conservation strategy help the restoration of old-growth forest attributes and recolonization by saproxylic beetles?. Animal Conservation, Wiley, 2014, 17 (4), pp.342-353. ⟨10.1111/acv.12101⟩. ⟨hal-02600034⟩

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