Effects of Clearfell Harvesting on Lucanid Beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in Wet and Dry Sclerophyll Forests in Tasmania
Michaels, KF and Bornemissza, G, Effects of Clearfell Harvesting on Lucanid Beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in Wet and Dry Sclerophyll Forests in Tasmania, Journal of Insect Conservation, 3, (2) pp. 85-95. ISSN 1366-638X (1999) [Refereed Article]
The effects of commercial forestry harvest and regeneration practices (clearfelling and slash-burning) on the lucanid fauna of the wet sclerophyll forests of southern Tasmania and the dry sclerophyll forests of eastern Tasmania were examined using pitfall catches. Lucanids are saproxylic beetles, dependent on dead, moribund and decaying wood. Samples taken from old-growth forest and from a chronosequence of sites regenerating after logging, in each forest type, were used to compare the species richness and abundance of the lucanid assemblages. In both forest types, species richness and abundance was highest in the youngest regeneration sites (1-3 year), reflecting the species richness of the original and adjacent unlogged forest, lowest in the older (20-25 year) sites, and variable in the old-growth sites. TWINSPAN cluster analysis showed no clear distinction between regeneration and old-growth forest. The post-harvest slash and stump residue provided an important refugium and initial habitat, but our research indicates that some species may not maintain populations in the long term. Our results suggest that most species of lucanids will find a continuous supply of suitable habitat only in old-growth forests; and such species may become less common as clearfell harvesting leads to a replacement of heterogeneous old-growth forest with single-aged monospecific stands. Continuity of supply of wood in all decay stages, the maintenance of sufficient source areas, and biological connectivity between old-growth stands to enable dispersal, are all likely to be essential to maintain lucanid beetle community integrity. If similar principles apply to other saproxylic species of invertebrate, then clearfelling and slash-burning may cause a gradual extinction of an important element of the forest biota.