Effect of woodstack structure on invertebrate abundance and diversity
Richard J. Sands
The University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK
11 Oct 2012
28 Mar 2013
1 May 2013
dead wood, woodstack, biodiversity, sticky trap, pitfall trap, invertebrates
Reduced quantities of dead wood in managed forests have resulted in a reduction in the abundance and diversity of saproxylic invertebrates to the extent that many are now considered red list species. To mitigate against this loss, one conservation measure is the provision of dead wood, in the form of piles of chopped logs, i.e. ‘woodstacks’. The heterogeneity and volume of dead wood habitat is considered to be an important component of habitat suitability. However, the value of different woodstack types to invertebrate conservation has rarely been quantified and there is little consensus on how to best to survey the invertebrate fauna of woodstacks. This study used both sticky traps and pitfall traps to sample the invertebrate fauna of three types of sycamore woodstack. Woodstacks were made from 10 logs, 20 logs and 10 scorched logs plus a control woodstack made of unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) plastic piping and observed over a 4-week period. A total of 1446 invertebrates from 16 orders, including 127 Coleoptera, were caught during the sampling period. A generalized linear model was used to analyse invertebrate abundance between woodstack and between trap types, and diversity was determined using Shannon diversity indices and analysed using a two-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The woodstack type had no effect on the abundance of invertebrates. However, Shannon diversity was highest on the scorched woodstacks, with little difference between the 10 and 20 log stacks and the control uPVC woodstacks. However, closer inspection of orders revealed the uPVC woodstacks to have the lowest abundance and diversity of Coleoptera. This study suggests that constructing woodstacks can provide suitable habitat for a variety of invertebrates. However, these invertebrates may have simply used the structures for shelter and the true value with saproxylic invertebrates could not be measured in this 4-week study. To fully appreciate the conservation value of woodstacks will require longer term studies that examine how and when saproxylic invertebrates use dead and decaying wood.