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Rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in northern Nearctic forests1

  • Greg Pohl (a1), David Langor (a1), Jan Klimaszewski (a2), Timothy Work (a3) and Pierre Paquin (a4)...

Abstract

Rove beetles are useful subjects for Nearctic forest biodiversity work because they are abundant, diverse, and easily collected, and have strong habitat affinities. Excellent identification keys exist for most groups, although there is a dearth of ecological and life-history information. There is considerable variation in species composition and abundance within the active summer season and in abundance from year to year. Community composition varies among larger geographical regions and to a lesser extent among forest types in more localized areas. Within the Nearctic boreal forest there are significant differences between beetle communities from the eastern and western portions. For the most part, the same species tend to dominate rove beetle communities in the western boreal forest. At the landscape level there are differences in rove beetle communities along successional gradients. In the boreal forest the communities of younger aspen-dominated and older conifer-dominated stands are somewhat distinct, with intermediate-aged stands containing a mix of the two communities. At the ecosite and microsite level there is significant variation, which remains poorly understood. Fire is the dominant mode of disturbance in the Nearctic boreal forest. It has a profound effect on rove beetles by destroying the forest communities and resetting the successional trajectory to the earliest stages. The burn pattern results in a patchwork of different communities at various stages in the successional cycle. In contrast to fire, forest harvesting does not directly destroy the rove beetle community, but to a large extent it destroys the forest habitat. This results in a unique rove beetle community characterized by a mix of forest species and open-ground specialists, and overall high diversity in this period of flux. In the years after harvesting, the rove beetle community goes through successional changes and becomes more similar to the forest community, but it skips the early postfire stage and proceeds along the successional trajectory more rapidly than after fire. In at least one forest type in western Canada, the post-fire and post-harvest communities, though similar, have not converged after 29 years. Other less direct effects of harvesting on rove beetles are a decrease in the proportion of the land base suitable for communities associated with older successional stages; alteration of forests by post-harvest site preparations and planting of exotic tree species; edge and fragmentation effects that are detrimental to the remaining forest surrounding harvested areas; and an influx of exotic arthropod species with affinities for disturbed sites. More information is needed on the habitat affinities of individual species. It is recommended that future work explore the effects of post-harvest forestry activities, fragmentation, and edges on rove beetles in forested habitats. As well, such studies should consider the effects on beetles of riparian zones and wetlands.

Les staphylins constituent un matériel intéressant pour l’étude de la biodiversité forestière dans la région néarctique parce qu’ils sont abondants, diversifiés et faciles à récolter et qu’ils ont de fortes affinités avec leur habitat. Il existe d’excellentes clés d’identification pour la plupart des groupes, bien qu’il y ait une pénurie de renseignements sur leur écologie et leurs cycles biologiques. Il se produit une importante variation de composition et d’abondance spécifiques durant la partie active de l’été et leur abondance change aussi d’année en année. La composition des communautés diffère dans les grandes régions géographiques et, à un moindre degré, dans les divers types forestiers dans les régions plus restreintes. Dans la forêt boréale néarctique, il y a des différences significatives entre les communautés de coléoptères des régions orientale et occidentale. En général, les mêmes espèces ont tendance à prédominer dans les communautés de staphylins dans la forêt boréale de l’ouest. À l’échelle du paysage, il y a des différences dans les communautés de staphylins le long des gradients de la succession écologique. Dans la forêt boréale, les communautés des peuplements plus jeunes dominés par les trembles et des peuplements plus vieux dominés par les conifères sont quelque peu distinctes et les peuplements intermédiaires contiennent un mélange des deux communautés. À l’échelle de l’écosite et du microsite, il existe une importante variation qui reste mal comprise. Le feu est le mode de perturbation dominant dans la forêt boréale néarctique. Il a un effet considérable sur les staphylins en détruisant les communautés forestières et en faisant rétrograder la trajectoire de la succession vers ses premiers stades. Le scénario du feu produit une mosaïque de communautés différentes rendues à divers stades de la succession. Contrairement au feu, la coupe forestière ne détruit pas directement la communauté de staphylins, mais elle élimine en grande partie l’habitat forestier. Cela fait apparaître une communauté particulière de staphylins, caractérisée par un mélange d’espèces forestières et de spécialistes des milieux ouverts et par une diversité globale élevée, pendant cette période de fluctuations. Dans les années qui suivent la coupe, la communauté de staphylins subit des changements associés à la succession et devient de plus en plus semblable à la communauté des forêts; elle passe, cependant, par-dessus le stade initial d’après feu et poursuit sa trajectoire de succession plus rapidement qu’après un incendie de forêt. Dans au moins un type de forêt dans l’Ouest canadien, la communauté d’après feu et celle d’après coupe, bien que semblables, n’ont pas encore convergé au bout de 29 ans. Les autres effets moins directs de la coupe sur les communautés de staphylins incluent une diminution de la proportion des terres adéquates pour les communautés associées aux stades plus avancés de la succession, une modification des forêts à cause de la préparation des sites après la coupe et l’implantation d’espèces exotiques d’arbres, des effets de bordure et de fragmentation qui sont nocifs à la forêt restante autour des sites coupés, ainsi qu’un apport d’espèces exotiques d’arthropodes ayant une affinité pour les milieux perturbés. Il est essentiel d’obtenir plus de renseignements sur les affinités d’habitat des différentes espèces. Nous recommandons que les études futures examinent les effets des activités forestières d’après coupe, de la fragmentation et des bordures sur les staphylins dans les régions forestières. De plus, il faudrait explorer les effets des zones riveraines et des terres humides sur les staphylins.

[Traduit par la Rédaction]

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2Corresponding author (e-mail: GPohl@NRCan.gc.ca).

References

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Rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in northern Nearctic forests1

  • Greg Pohl (a1), David Langor (a1), Jan Klimaszewski (a2), Timothy Work (a3) and Pierre Paquin (a4)...

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