Relationships between dead wood and arthropods in the southeastern United States
Ulyshen, Michael Darragh
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The importance of dead wood to maintaining forest diversity is now widely recognized. However, the habitat associations and sensitivities of many species associated with dead wood remain unknown, making it difficult to develop conservation plans for managed forests. The purpose of this research, conducted on the upper coastal plain of South Carolina, was to better understand the relationships between dead wood and arthropods in the southeastern United States. In a comparison of forest types, more beetle species emerged from logs collected in upland pine-dominated stands than in bottomland hardwood forests. This difference was most pronounced for Quercus nigra L., a species of tree uncommon in upland forests. In a comparison of wood postures, more beetle species emerged from logs than from snags, but a number of species appear to be dependent on snags including several canopy specialists. In a study of saproxylic beetle succession, species richness peaked within the first year of death and declined steadily thereafter. However, a number of species appear to be dependent on highly decayed logs, underscoring the importance of protecting wood at all stages of decay. In a study comparing litter-dwelling arthropod abundance at different distances from dead wood, arthropods were more abundant near dead wood than away from it. In another study, ground-dwelling arthropods and saproxylic beetles were little affected by large-scale manipulations of dead wood in upland pine-dominated forests, possibly due to the suitability of the forests surrounding the plots.