Biodiversity and Conservation

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

Decomposing logs increase oribatid mite assemblage diversity in mixedwood boreal forest

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).


  1. Anderson JM (1975) Succession, diversity and trophic relationships of some soil animals in decomposing leaf litter. J Anim Ecol 44:475–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JM (1978) Inter- and intra-habitat relationships between woodland Cryptostigmata species diversity and the diversity of soil and litter microhabitats. Oecologia 32:341–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aoki J (1967) Microhabitats of oribatid mites on a forest floor. Bull Nat Sci Mus (Tokyo) 10:133–140Google Scholar
  4. Battigelli JP, Spence JR, Langor DW, Berch SM (2004) Short-term impact of forest soil compaction and organic matter removal on soil mesofauna density and oribatid mite diversity. Can J For Res 34:1136–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Behan VM, Hill SB (1978) Feeding habits and spore dispersal in oribatid mites in the North American arctic. Revue D’ecologie et de Biologie du Sol 15:497–516Google Scholar
  6. Behan-Pelletier VM (1994) Mycobates (Acari: Oribatida: Mycobatidae) of America North of Mexico. Can Entomol 126:1301–1361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Behan-Pelletier VM (1999) Oribatid mite biodiversity in agroecosystems: role for bioindication. Agric Ecosyst Environ 74:4111–4423Google Scholar
  8. Bengtsson J, Persson T, Lundkvist H (1997) Long-term effects of logging residue addition and removal on macroarthropods and enchytraeids. J Appl Ecol 34:1014–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brais S, Harvey BD, Bergeron Y, Messier C, Greene D, Belleau A, Paré D (2004a) Testing forest ecosystem management in boreal mixedwoods of northwestern Quebec; initial response of aspen stands to different levels of harvesting. Can J For Res 34:431–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brais S, Harvey B, Bergeron Y (2004b) Rapport final: Élaboration d’une approche sylvicole écosystémique pour la forêt boréale mixte. Project SAFE. Unité de recherche et de développement forestiers de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, UQATGoogle Scholar
  11. Buddle CM (2001) Spiders (Araneae) associated with downed woody material in a deciduous forest in central Alberta, Canada. Agric For Entomol 3:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buddle CM, Beguin J, Bolduc E, Mercado A, Sackett TE, Selby RD, Varady-Szabo H, Zeran RM (2005) The importance and use of taxon sampling curves for comparative biodiversity research with forest arthropod assemblages. Can Entomol 137:120–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crossley DA Jr, Blair JM (1991) A high-efficiency, “low-technology” Tullgren- type extractor for soil microarthropods. Agric Ecosyst Environ 34:187–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dansereau P-R, Bergeron Y (1993) Fire history in the southern boreal forest of northwestern Quebec. Can J For Res 23:25–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Déchêne AD, Buddle CM (2009) Effects of experimental forest harvesting on oribatid mite biodiversity. For Ecol Manag 258:1331–1341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dufrêne M, Legendre P (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecol Monogr 67:345–366Google Scholar
  17. Edwards CA (1991) The assessment of populations of soil-inhabiting invertebrates. Agric Ecosyst Environ 34:145–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Environment Canada (2003) Canadian climate normals, Eureka River, Alberta. Environment Canada, Ottawa, ON. Available from Accessed 10 September 2007
  19. Esseen P-A, Ehnström B, Ericson L, Sjöberg K (1997) Boreal forests. Ecol Bull 46:16–47Google Scholar
  20. Evans AM, Clinton PW, Allen RB, Frampton CM (2003) The influence of logs in the spatial distribution of litter-dwelling invertebrates and forest floor processes in New Zealand forests. For Ecol Manag 184:251–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fries C, Johansson O, Pettersson B, Simonsson P (1997) Silvicultural models to maintain and restore natural stand structures in Swedish boreal forests. For Ecol Manag 94:89–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2001) Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecol Lett 4:379–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gotelli NJ, Entsminger GL (2006) EcoSim: null models software for ecology, version 7. Acquired Intelligence Inc. & Kesey-Bear, Jericho, VT. Available at
  24. Graham SA (1925) The felled tree trunk as an ecological unit. Ecology 6:397–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grove SJ (2002) Saproxylic insect ecology and the sustainable management of forests. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haila Y (1994) Preserving ecological diversity in boreal forests: ecological background, research, and management. Ann Zool Fenn 31:203–217Google Scholar
  27. Hammond HEJ, Langor DW, Spence JR (2004) Saproxylic beetles (Coleoptera) using Populus in boreal aspen stands of western Canada: spatiotemporal variation and conservation of assemblages. Can J For Res 34:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hansen RA (2000) Effects of habitat complexity and composition on a diverse litter microarthropod assemblage. Ecology 81:1120–1132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Harmon ME, Franklin JF, Swanson FJ, Sollins P, Gregory SV, Lattin JD, Anderson NH, Cline SP, Aumen NG, Sedell JR, Leinkaemper GW, Cromack K Jr, Cummins KW (1986) Ecology of coarse woody debris in temperate ecosystems. Adv Ecol Res 15:133–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hoover MD, Lunt HA (1952) A key for the classification of forest humus types. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 16:368–370Google Scholar
  31. Jabin M, Mohr D, Kappes H, Topp W (2004) Influence of deadwood on density of soil macro-arthropods in a managed oak-beech forest. For Ecol Manag 194:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnston JM, Crossley DA (1993) The significance of coarse woody debris for the diversity of soil mites. In: McMinn JW, Crossley DA (eds) Proceedings of the workshop on coarse woody debris in southern forests: effects on biodiversity. General Technical Report No. SE-94. USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA, pp 82–87Google Scholar
  33. Jonsell M, Weslien J, Ehnström B (1998) Substrate requirements of red-listed saproxylic invertebrates in Sweden. Biodivers Conserv 7:749–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jonsson BG, Kruys N, Ranius T (2005) Ecology of species living on dead wood—lessons for dead wood management. Silva Fennica 39:289–309Google Scholar
  35. Kaila L, Martikainen P, Punttila P (1997) Dead trees left in clearcuts benefit saproxylic Coleoptera adapted to natural disturbances in boreal forest. Biodivers Conserv 6:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kuuluvainen T, Laiho R (2004) Long-term forest utilization can decrease forest floor microhabitat diversity: evidence from boreal Fennoscandia. Can J For Res 34:303–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lindo Z, Visser S (2004) Forest floor microarthropod abundance and oribatid mite (Acari: Oribatida) composition following partial and clear-cut harvesting in the mixedwood boreal forest. Can J For Res 34:998–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Luxton M (1972) Studies on the oribatid mites of a Danish beech wood soil. Pedobiologia 12:434–463Google Scholar
  39. Maraun M, Migge S, Schaefer M, Scheu S (1998) Selection of microfungal food by six oribatid mite species (Oribatida, Acari) from two different beech forests. Pedobiologia 42:232–240Google Scholar
  40. Marra JL, Edmonds RL (1998) Effects of coarse woody debris and soil depth on the density and diversity of soil invertebrates on clearcut and forested sites on the Olympic peninsula, Washington. Community Ecosyst Ecol 27:1111–1124Google Scholar
  41. Marshall VG (1972) Comparison of two methods of estimating efficiency of funnel extractors for soil microarthropods. Soil Biol Biogeochem 4:417–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marshall VG, Reeves RM, Norton RA (1987) Catalogue of the Oribatida (Acari) of continental United States and Canada. Mem Entomol Soc Can 139:418Google Scholar
  43. McCune B, Mefford MJ (1999) PC-ORD: multivariate analysis of ecological data (version 4.17). MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, OregonGoogle Scholar
  44. Niedbala W (2002) Ptyctimous mites (Acari, Oribatida) of the nearctic region. Monogr Up Sil Mus (Bytom, Poland) 4:261Google Scholar
  45. Niemelä J, Haila Y, Punttila P (1996) The importance of small-scale heterogeneity in boreal forests: variation in diversity in forest-floor invertebrates across the succession gradient. Ecography 19:352–368Google Scholar
  46. Norton RA (1985) Aspects of the biology and systematics of soil arachnids, particularly saprophagous and mycophagous mites. Quaest Entomol 21:523–541Google Scholar
  47. Norton RA, Behan-Pelletier VM (2009) Oribatida. In: Krantz G, Walter DE (eds) A manual of acarology, 3rd edn. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, TexasGoogle Scholar
  48. Prinzing A (2005) Corticolous arthropods under climatic fluctuations: compensation is more important than migration. Ecography 28:17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. SAS Institute Inc. (2003) Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) v. 9.1. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  50. Schiegg K (2000) Effects of dead wood volume and connectivity on saproxylic insect species diversity. Ecoscience 7:290–298Google Scholar
  51. Schneider K, Maraun M (2005) Feeding preferences among dark pigmented fungal taxa (‘‘Dematiacea’’) indicate limited trophic niche differentiation of oribatid mites (Oribatida, Acari). Pedobiologia 49:61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schneider K, Migge S, Norton RA, Scheu S, Langel R, Reineking A, Maraun M (2004) Trophic niche differentiation in soil microarthropods (Oribatida, Acari): evidence from stable isotope ratios (15N/14N). Soil Biol Biochem 36:1769–1774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Seastedt TR, Crossley DA Jr (1988) Soil arthropods and their role in decomposition and mineralization processes. In: Swank WT, Crossley DA Jr (eds) Ecological studies, 66. Forest Hydrology and Ecology at Coweeta; Symposium, Athens, Georgia, USA, October 1984. XVII+469P. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., New York, USA; Berlin West Germany. Illus. Maps. Series information: ecological studies. PT book. Meeting, pp 233–244Google Scholar
  54. Seastedt TR, Reddy MV, Cline SP (1989) Microarthropods in decaying wood from temperate coniferous and deciduous forests. Pedobiologia 33:69–77Google Scholar
  55. Siira-Pietikäinen A, Penttinen R, Huhta V (2008) Oribatid mites (Acari: Oribatida) in boreal forest floor and decaying wood. Pedobiologia 52:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Siitonen J (2001) Forest management, coarse woody debris and saproxylic organisms: Fennoscandian boreal forests as an example. Ecol Bull 49:11–41Google Scholar
  57. Sollins P, Cline SP, Verhoeven T, Sachs D, Spycher G (1987) Patterns of log decay in old-growth Douglas-fir forests. Can J For Res 17:1585–1595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Speight MCD (1989) Saproxylic invertebrates and their conservation. Council of Europe, StrasbourgGoogle Scholar
  59. Stewart GH, Burrows LE (1994) Coarse woody debris in old-growth temperate beech (Nothofagus) forests of New Zealand. Can J For Res 24:1989–1996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Van Lear DH (1993) Dynamics of coarse woody debris in southern forest ecosystems. In: Proceedings of the workshop for coarse woody debris in southern forests: effects on biodiversity. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Athens, GAGoogle Scholar
  61. Varady-Szabo H, Buddle CM (2006) On the relationships between ground-dwelling spider (Araneae) assemblages and dead wood in a northern sugar maple forest. Biodivers Conserv 15:4119–4141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Waddell KL (2002) Sampling coarse woody debris for multiple attributes in extensive resource inventories. Ecol Indicators 1:139–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Weigmann G (2006) Hornmilben (Oribatida). In: Dahl, Die Tierwelt Deutschlands, Bd. 76. Verlag Goecke & Evers, Keltern, 520 ppGoogle Scholar
  64. Work TT, McCullough DG (2000) Lepidopteran communities in two forest ecosystems during the first gypsy moth outbreaks in northern Michigan. Environ Entomol 29:884–900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zimmerman GM, Goetz H, Mielke PW Jr (1985) Use of an improved statistical method for group comparisons to study effects of prairie fire. Ecology 66:606–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations