Climate-induced forest dieback drives compositional changes in insect communities that are more pronounced for rare species

Lucas Sire, Paul Schmidt Yáñez, Cai Wang, Annie Bézier, Béatrice Courtial, Jérémy Cours, Diego Fontaneto, Laurent Larrieu, Christophe Bouget, Simon Thorn, Jörg Müller, Douglas W. Yu, Michael T. Monaghan, Elisabeth A. Herniou, Carlos Lopez-Vaamonde

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Species richness, abundance and biomass of insects have recently undergone marked declines in Europe. We metabarcoded 211 Malaise-trap samples to investigate whether drought-induced forest dieback and subsequent salvage logging had an impact on ca. 3000 species of flying insects in silver fir Pyrenean forests. While forest dieback had no measurable impact on species richness, there were significant changes in community composition that were consistent with those observed during natural forest succession. Importantly, most observed changes were driven by rare species. Variation was explained primarily by canopy openness at the local scale, and the tree-related microhabitat diversity and deadwood amount at landscape scales. The levels of salvage logging in our study did not explain compositional changes. We conclude that forest dieback drives changes in species assemblages that mimic natural forest succession, and markedly increases the risk of catastrophic loss of rare species through homogenization of environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022

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