Utilization of Non-native Wood by Saproxylic Insects

  • Michael D. UlyshenEmail author
  • Stephen M. Pawson
  • Manuela Branco
  • Scott Horn
  • E. Richard Hoebeke
  • Martin M. Gossner
Part of the Zoological Monographs book series (ZM, volume 1)


Whether intentionally or accidentally introduced, non-native woody plants now feature prominently in many ecosystems throughout the world. The dying and deadwood produced by these plants represent novel resources for saproxylic insects, but their suitability to these organisms remains poorly understood. We herein review existing knowledge about the utilization of non-native wood species by saproxylic insect communities and also provide several previously unpublished case studies from the USA, Germany, Portugal/Spain, and New Zealand. The first case study suggests that the relative number of beetle species utilizing non-native vs. native wood varies greatly among wood species, with some non-native species (e.g., Albizia julibrissin ) supporting a high beetle diversity. A decomposition experiment found that termites did not readily attack three non-native wood species and did not contribute significantly to their decomposition in contrast to what has been shown for a native pine species. The second case study found two species of non-native wood to support a lower richness of beetles compared to two native wood species in Germany, with Pseudotsuga menziesii supporting particularly few species which formed just a small subset of the community collected from native Picea abies . The third case study, from Iberia, found Eucalyptus to support a relatively small number of insect species with generalist host preferences. The fourth case study provides a list of insects reported from non-native pine and Eucalyptus in New Zealand. Based on our literature review and these new case studies, we conclude that non-native wood species can support diverse insect assemblages but that their suitability varies greatly depending on host species as well as the host specificity of the insect(s) under consideration. Although many generalist species appear capable of using non-native woody resources, more research is needed to determine whether non-native wood species have any value in promoting the conservation of the most threatened taxa.



We thank Francesca Della Rocca (University of Pavia, Italy) and Anne Oxbrough (Edge Hill University, England) for providing reviews that improved the manuscript and Jessica Mou for providing edits. We also thank Jim Hanula and Mike Cody for helping with the field work described under case study 1.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection.  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Ulyshen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephen M. Pawson
    • 2
  • Manuela Branco
    • 3
  • Scott Horn
    • 1
  • E. Richard Hoebeke
    • 4
  • Martin M. Gossner
    • 5
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceSouthern Research StationAthensUSA
  2. 2.Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)RotoruaNew Zealand
  3. 3.Forest Research Center (CEF)School of Agriculture ISA, University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Georgia Museum of Natural History and Department of EntomologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  5. 5.Forest EntomologySwiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland

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