The expected future intensification of forest disturbance as a consequence of ongoing anthropogenic climate change highlights the urgent need to more robustly quantify associated biotic responses. Saproxylic beetles are a diverse group of forest invertebrates representing a major component of biodiversity that is associated with the decomposition and cycling of wood nutrients and carbon in forest ecosystems. Disturbance-induced declines or shifts in their diversity indicate the loss of key ecological and/or morphological species traits that could change ecosystem functioning. Functional and phylogenetic diversity of biological communities is commonly used to link species communities to ecosystem functions. However, our knowledge on how disturbance intensity alters functional and phylogenetic diversity of saproxylic beetles is incomplete. Here, we analyzed the main drivers of saproxylic beetle abundance and diversity using a comprehensive dataset from montane primary forests in Europe. We investigated cascading relationships between 250 years of historical disturbance mechanisms, forest structural attributes and the taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of present-day beetle communities. Our analyses revealed that historical disturbances have significant effects on current beetle communities. Contrary to our expectations, different aspects of beetle communities, that is, abundance, taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity, responded to different disturbance regime components. Past disturbance frequency was the most important component influencing saproxylic beetle communities and habitat via multiple temporal and spatial pathways. The quantity of deadwood and its diameter positively influenced saproxylic beetle abundance and functional diversity, whereas phylogenetic diversity was positively influenced by canopy openness. Analyzing historical disturbances, we observed that current beetle diversity is far from static, such that the importance of various drivers might change during further successional development. Only forest landscapes that are large enough to allow for the full range of temporal and spatial patterns of disturbances and post-disturbance development will enable long-term species coexistence and their associated ecosystem functions.
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This project was supported by the institutional project MSMT (No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000803), by the Czech University of Life Sciences (Grant IGA No. A_19_33 and CIGA No. 20184301), by the Operational Programme Research and Innovation (NFP: 313010T721) and by the Grant of the Slovak Grant Agency for Science (VEGA no.1/0104/19).
Authors Contributions: DK, MM, MW, ST, MSvi, MSvo, JHor conceived the ideas and designed study. DK, MW, MM, PJ, RB, VČ, VT, OK, AW, MSy, MD and MF contributed to and organized data collection. MSvi, ST, DK analyzed the data. DK, ST, AB, MM, TAN, JLP, JMP, JHof, RM led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed critically to the study and gave final approval for publication.
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Kozák, D., Svitok, M., Wiezik, M. et al. Historical Disturbances Determine Current Taxonomic, Functional and Phylogenetic Diversity of Saproxylic Beetle Communities in Temperate Primary Forests. Ecosystems 24, 37–55 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-020-00502-x
- Disturbance processes
- Climate change
- Ecological traits
- Phylogenetic diversity
- Primary forest