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Boxing for biodiversity: evaluation of an artificially created decaying wood habitat

Carlsson, Staffan, Bergman, Karl-Olof, Jansson, Nicklas, Ranius, Thomas, Milberg, Per
Biodiversity and conservation 2016 v.25 no.2 pp. 393-405
animals, flour, habitats, leaves, nests, sawdust, species diversity, threatened species, trees, wood, Europe
Many saproxylic species are threatened in Europe because of habitat decline. Hollow trees represent an important habitat for saproxylic species. Artificial habitats may need to be created to maintain or increase the amount of habitat due to natural habitat decline. This study investigated the extent to which saproxylic beetles use artificial habitats in wooden boxes. The boxes were placed at various distances (0–1800 m) from known biodiversity hotspots with hollow oaks and studied over 10 years. Boxes were mainly filled with oak saw dust, oak leaves, hay and lucerne flour. In total, 2170 specimens of 91 saproxylic beetle species were sampled in 43 boxes. The abundance of species associated with tree hollows, wood rot and animal nests increased from the fourth to the final year, but species richness declined for all groups. This study shows that wooden boxes can function as saproxylic species habitats. The artificial habitats developed into a more hollow-like environment during the decade long experiment with fewer but more abundant tree hollow specialists.