Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 237–256 | Cite as

Decomposing logs increase oribatid mite assemblage diversity in mixedwood boreal forest

  • Andrea D. Déchêne
  • Christopher M. Buddle
Original Paper


The removal of timber during harvesting substantially reduces important invertebrate habitat, most noticeably microhabitats associated with fallen trees. Oribatid mite diversity in downed woody material (DWM) using species-level data has not been well studied. We investigated the influence of decaying logs on the spatial distribution of oribatid mites on the forest floor at the sylviculture et aménagement forestiers écosystémique (SAFE) research station in the Abitibi region in NW Québec. In June 2006, six aspen logs were selected for study, and samples were taken at three distances for each log: directly on top of the log (ON), directly beside the log (ADJ) and at least one metre away from the log and any other fallen wood (AWAY). Samples ON logs consisted of a litter layer sample, an upper wood sample and an inner wood sample. Samples at the ADJ and AWAY distances consisted of litter samples and soil cores. The highest species richness was collected ON logs, and logs harboured a distinct oribatid species composition compared to nearby forest floor. There were species-specific changes in abundance with increasing distance away from DWM, which indicates an influence of DWM in structuring oribatid assemblages on the forest floor. Additionally, each layer (litter, wood and soil) exhibited a unique species composition and hosted a different diversity of oribatid mites. This study further highlights the importance of DWM to forest biodiversity by creating habitat for unique assemblages of oribatid mites.


Biodiversity Boreal forest Conservation Decomposition Downed woody material Ecosystem based management Logs Microhabitat Mites Oribatida 



Coarse woody debris


Downed woody material


Sylviculture et aménagement forestiers écosystémique


Directly on top of a log


Directly beside a log


At least one metre away from a log and any other fallen wood



We thank Jean-François Aublet, Véronique Lafrance-Rivard and Josée Frenette for assistance in the field and Suzanne Brais for her assistance. Financial support was provided by Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies, Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF), FQRNT, Regroupement stratégiques—Centre de recherché and National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC discovery grant to CMB and NSERC PGS-M to ADD).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySte. Anne de BellevueCanada

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