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Beetles living in open deciduous forests prefer different tree species than those living in dense forests

, : Beetles living in open deciduous forests prefer different tree species than those living in dense forests. Entomologisk Tidskrift 113(1-2): 1-11

Habitat selection of threatened (according to Swedish national red data list) nemoral and boreo-nemoral forest-living beetles (and, as comparison, snails) are discussed. An analysis of their preferences regarding choice of tree species, degree of openness (i.e., whether the organisms prefer shaded or light-exposed trees) and degree of dampness of the forests is presented. More than 60% of the threatened beetles prefer forests with light-exposed trees to dense forests, while 1/4 prefer dense to open. In contrast, more than 2/3 of the snails prefer dense forests and remaining 1/3 are indifferent to degree of openness. There was a marked difference in preference of openness due to which tree species the beetles are adapted to live with. 70% of beech-living species prefer dense, shaded forests, while ca. 1/4 prefer open forests. Among beetles living with oak and other deciduous tree species except beech 70% prefer open forests, 16% dense and some 11% are indifferent. In general beech-living beetles also prefer more damp forests than oak-living do. These adaptations to different forest structures probably result from different affects on the forest by grazing megaherbivores, now mainly extinct. Differences in light permeability of beech canopy (low during summertime) contra other deciduous trees (higher, with better development undergrowth vegetation), altitude occurrence (at least during pleistocene the beech has to a large degree been restricted to mountains, while oak-dominated forests have grown in low-land), ability to grow on thin soils (higher in oak than in beech), fire inclination and fire resistance, may have initiated the process. The observations have implications for nature conservation and management of forests.

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