Importance of Primary Forests for the Conservation of Saproxylic Insects

Lachat, Thibault; Müller, Joerg (2018). Importance of Primary Forests for the Conservation of Saproxylic Insects In: Saproxylic Insects. Zoological Monographs: Vol. 1 (pp. 581-605). Cham: Springer International Publishing 10.1007/978-3-319-75937-1_17

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Primary forests represent the ultimate intact habitat for saproxylic insects. However, their extent has been considerably reduced over the past centuries, and those remaining are very heterogeneously distributed. Primary forests are still locally abundant in tropical and boreal zones but are rare in temperate zones. Consequently, many saproxylic insects that were adapted to typical characteristics of primary forests, such as large amounts of dead wood or overmature and senescent trees, might have become extinct regionally due to habitat loss. The remaining primary forests therefore function as refuges for those saproxylic species that cannot survive in managed forests because of their high ecological requirements. Here we identify six characteristics of primary forests important for saproxylic insects that differentiate these forests greatly from managed forests, namely, absence of habitat fragmentation, continuity, natural disturbance regimes, dead-wood amount and quality, tree species composition and habitat trees. These six characteristics highlight the importance of primary forests for the conservation of saproxylic insects in all three main climatic domains (tropical, boreal and temperate). As primary forests are rare in northern temperate zones and are being dramatically lost in boreal and tropical zones, we propose that they should be strictly conserved independently of their climatic zone. Furthermore, we recommend that studies in primary forests intensify to provide reference data for integrating primary forest characteristics into managed forests to improve the conservation of saproxylic species.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Multifunctional Forest Management


Lachat, Thibault0000-0003-3952-7443 and
Müller, Joerg


G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > SD Forestry




Zoological Monographs


Springer International Publishing




Nadine Werndli

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2019 11:10

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:





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