Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 3019–3029 | Cite as

Winners and losers in the wilderness: response of biodiversity to the abandonment of ancient forest pastures

  • Jakub HorákEmail author
  • Jan Pavlíček
  • Jiří Kout
  • Josef P. Halda
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


Large areas of formerly oak-dominated woodlands are currently managed for timber products, and if they are used in a conservation-oriented way, they are often abandoned and left to become wilderness. We focused on the situation when an oak woodland is still partly managed as an ancient game park and partly abandoned as a nature conservation amendment. We studied this effect using a multi-taxa approach with lichens, fungi and beetles and investigated their response to the changing patterns in canopy openness, dead wood distribution and host tree conditions. The study was done in the Hradec Králové region of the Czech Republic. We found that the maintenance of canopy openness, as determined by management, was the primary driver influencing species composition. Canopy closure led to homogenization of the beetle and lichen communities and the loss of species. Fungi were mainly driven by the amount of dead wood, and abandonment favored their species richness. The creation of a new wilderness was only profitable for fungi, and the maintenance of canopy openness was an important driver for most of the studied taxa (i.e., biodiversity maintenance). Canopy openness and the presence of veteran trees could be used as an indicator of a management history that helps conserve biodiversity. Appropriate conditions for all taxa studied could be fulfilled using wood pasturing or game keeping in combination with dead tree retention.


Canopy openness Dead wood Veteran trees Epiphytic lichens Wood-inhabiting fungi Saproxylic beetles 



We would like to thank Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld and the foresters and game keepers (namely, Milan Vondřejc, Vladimír Jirka and Martin Baše) for access and consultations, and Petr Stloukal for support of the study in Mochov. Petr Boža, David Hauck, Libor Dvořák, Jiří Háva, Jaroslav Boháč, Josef Moravec, Karel Rébl, Josef Jelínek, Libor Šulák, Robert Stejskal, Zdeněk Švec and Zdeněk Znamenáček helped us a great deal in the identification of some beetle species. Two anonymous reviewers had valuable suggestions. This study was supported by the Grants NAZV KUS QJ1520197 and CIGA ČZU 20174307.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1585_MOESM1_ESM.docx (90 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 90 kb)


  1. Bässler C, Müller J, Dziock F, Brandl R (2010) Effects of resource availability and climate on the diversity of wood-decaying fungi. J Ecol 98:822–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouget C, Parmain G, Gilg O, Noblecourt T, Nusillard B, Paillet Y, Gosselin F (2014) Does a set-aside conservation strategy help the restoration of old-growth forest attributes and recolonization by saproxylic beetles? Anim Conserv 17:342–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buse J, Ranius T, Assmann T (2008) An endangered longhorn beetle associated with old oaks and its possible role as an ecosystem engineer. Conserv Biol 22:329–337CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Buse J, Entling MH, Ranius T, Assmann T (2016) Response of saproxylic beetles to small-scale habitat connectivity depends on trophic levels. Landsc Ecol 31:939–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fossestol KO, Sverdrup-Thygeson A (2009) Saproxylic beetles in high stumps and residual downed wood on clear-cuts and in forest edges. Scand J For Res 24:403–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hartel T, Plieninger T (2014) European wood-pastures in transition: a social-ecological approach. Routledge, AbingdonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hartel T, Dorresteijn I, Klein C, Máthé O, Moga CI, Öllerer K, Fischer J (2013) Wood-pastures in a traditional rural region of Eastern Europe: characteristics, management and status. Biol Conserv 166:267–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Heilmann-Clausen J, Christensen M (2004) Does size matter?: on the importance of various dead wood fractions for fungal diversity in Danish beech forests. For Ecol Manage 201:105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Horák K (1968) Z historie myslivosti na panství opočenském. Orlické hory a Podorlicko 1:85–97Google Scholar
  10. Horák K (1969) Lesní hospodářství na panství opočenském do 18. století. Orlické hory a Podorlicko 2:22–44Google Scholar
  11. Horák J (2017) Insect ecology and veteran trees. J Insect Conserv 21(1):1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Horák J, Rébl K (2013) The species richness of click beetles in ancient pasture woodland benefits from a high level of sun exposure. J Insect Conserv 17:307–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Horak J, Vodka S, Kout J, Halda JP, Bogusch P, Pech P (2014) Biodiversity of most dead wood-dependent organisms in thermophilic temperate oak woodlands thrives on diversity of open landscape structures. For Ecol Manage 315:80–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Horák J, Chobot K, Horáková J (2012) Hanging on by the tips of the tarsi: a review of the plight of the critically endangered saproxylic beetle in European forests. J Nat Conserv 20:101–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Horák J, Kout J, Vodka Š, Donato DC (2016) Dead wood dependent organisms in one of the oldest protected forests of Europe: investigating the contrasting effects of within-stand variation in a highly diversified environment. For Ecol Manage 363:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johansson V, Ranius T, Snäll T (2013) Epiphyte metapopulation persistence after drastic habitat decline and low tree regeneration: time-lags and effects of conservation actions. J Appl Ecol 50:414–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lachat T, Wermelinger B, Gossner MM, Bussler H, Isacsson G, Müller J (2012) Saproxylic beetles as indicator species for dead-wood amount and temperature in European beech forests. Ecol Ind 23:323–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loskotová T, Horák J (2016) The influence of mature oak stands and spruce plantations on soil-dwelling click beetles in lowland plantation forests. PeerJ 4:e1568CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Mazzei A, Bonacci T, Horák J, Brandmayr P (2018) The role of topography, stand and habitat features for management and biodiversity of a prominent forest hotspot of the Mediterranean Basin: saproxylic beetles as possible indicators. For Ecol Manage 410:66–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miklín J, Čížek L (2014) Erasing a European biodiversity hot-spot: open woodlands, veteran trees and mature forests succumb to forestry intensification, succession, and logging in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. J Nat Conserv 22:35–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miklín J, Hradecký J (2016) Confluence of the Morava and Dyje Rivers: a century of landscape changes in maps. J Maps 12:630–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miklín J, Hauck D, Konvička O, Cizek L (2017) Veteran trees and saproxylic insects in the floodplains of Lower Morava and Dyje rivers, Czech Republic. J Maps 13:291–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mladenović S, Loskotová T, Boháč J, Pavlíček J, Brestovanský J, Horák J (2018) The effects of within stand disturbance in plantation forests indicate complex and contrasting responses among and within beetle families. Bull Entomol Res. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Müller J, Brustel H, Brin A, Bussler H, Bouget C, Obermaier E, Procházka J (2015) Increasing temperature may compensate for lower amounts of dead wood in driving richness of saproxylic beetles. Ecography 38:499–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pandey RR, Sharma G, Tripathi SK, Singh AK (2007) Litterfall, litter decomposition and nutrient dynamics in a subtropical natural oak forest and managed plantation in Northeastern India. For Ecol Manage 240:96–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Parmain G, Bouget C (2017) Large solitary oaks as keystone structures for saproxylic beetles in European agricultural landscapes. Insect Conserv Diver. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Plieninger T, Hartel T, Martín-López B, Beaufoy G, Bergmeier E, Kirby K, Van Uytvanck J (2015) Wood-pastures of Europe: geographic coverage, social–ecological values, conservation management, and policy implications. Biol Conserv 190:70–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Price M, Price C (2006) Creaming the best, or creatively transforming? Might felling the biggest trees first be a win–win strategy? For Ecol Manage 224:297–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sebek P, Bace R, Bartos M, Benes J, Chlumska Z, Dolezal J, Perlik M (2015) Does a minimal intervention approach threaten the biodiversity of protected areas? A multi-taxa short-term response to intervention in temperate oak-dominated forests. For Ecol Manage 358:80–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seibold S, Bässler C, Brandl R, Gossner MM, Thorn S, Ulyshen MD, Müller J (2015) Experimental studies of dead-wood biodiversity—a review identifying global gaps in knowledge. Biol Conserv 191:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thakur MP, Reich PB, Fisichelli NA, Stefanski A, Cesarz S, Dobies T, Eisenhauer N (2014) Nematode community shifts in response to experimental warming and canopy conditions are associated with plant community changes in the temperate-boreal forest ecotone. Oecologia 175:713–723CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Van den Berg AE, Koole SL (2006) New wilderness in the Netherlands: an investigation of visual preferences for nature development landscapes. Landsc Urban Plan 78:362–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vera FWM (2000) Grazing ecology and forest history. CABI publishing, WallingfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vodka S, Konvicka M, Cizek L (2009) Habitat preferences of oak-feeding xylophagous beetles in a temperate woodland: implications for forest history and management. J Insect Conserv 13:553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vrška T (2008) Unmanaged for a hundred and seventy years. Unmanaged: the natural forest in photography. Moravská galerie, Brno, pp 12–15Google Scholar
  36. Whitehouse NJ, Smith D (2010) How fragmented was the British Holocene wildwood? Perspectives on the “Vera” grazing debate from the fossil beetle record. Quatern Sci Rev 29:539–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry and Wood SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.LesákPardubiceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Geosciences and Environmental Education, Faculty of EducationUniversity of West BohemiaPlzeňCzech Republic
  4. 4.Museum and Gallery of Orlické horyRychnov nad KněžnouCzech Republic
  5. 5.OpočnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations