The importance of early seral species

Often species adapted to disturbance are neglected in conservation. Generally this is not a problem as generally humans do a fine job creating disturbed habitat, however in some forest landscapes ‘natural’ disturbance (e.g. fire) is being excluded. In Sweden (and Tasmania) at least, the only disturbance is clear cutting so it’s important to understand what impact this is having on early seral species. A recent paper by Rubene et al (see the link below) looks at two red listed early seral beetles and the impacts of clear cutting compared to variable retention (VR) practices. many previous studies have shown positive effects of VR on old growth species, yet few have looked at species adapted for disturbance. Basically, they found that a greater abundance of both threatened species in the VR plots compared to the clear cut, which they then  link to increased amount and quality of dead wood in the VR coupes.

This type of work hasn’t been done in Tasmania, even though there are plenty of species that are young seral specialists (including the Pselaphid Anabaxis below). As is nearly always the case in Australia, we have a very limited understanding of what species are rare or not. This paper demonstrates that it’s important that we don’t neglect young seral communities as they too can be of conservation value.

Link to the paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-013-0612-3

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