The fine scale physical attributes of coarse woody debris and effects of surrounding stand structure on its utilization by ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in British Columbia, Canada

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  • Authors: Higgins, Robert J.; Lindgren, B. Staffan
  • Publication Year: 2006
  • Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
  • Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-93. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 67-73

Abstract

Coarse woody debris (CWD) is increasingly recognized in Canada for its contribution toward biodiversity. It is a particularly vital resource in subboreal forests as nesting habitat for ants (Formicidae). Wood, which has low specific heat, provides a thermally favorable environment in this cool climate. Ants contribute to the physical breakdown of wood, and colonies are a significant food source for many vertebrates. However, this resource differs significantly between harvested and non-harvested stands. This study examined the physical attributes of CWD in 8-10 year old harvested and non-harvested stands while also examining the associated ant fauna. We found no significant difference in volume or total surface area between stand types. However, in harvested stands CWD is smaller in diameter, shorter, has less bark and has less evenly distributed decay classes as compared to non-harvested stands. In addition, the lack of earliest decay class and the physical damage evident on the majority of CWD pieces in harvested stands creates concern regarding the long term availability of CWD in harvested stands. Ants exploit available CWD in harvested stands but the community structure of this fauna appears to be young in these 8-10 year post-harvest stands. Larger ant species such as Camponotus herculeanus and Formica aserva were present but not common in these stands. They seem to require larger pieces of CWD and stumps for nesting habitat than is the average for CWD in harvested stands. The desirability of these ants as prey for bears and birds makes management of their nesting habitat of interest for conservation biology. Ants were largely excluded from non-harvested stands, probably because of cool and humid conditions. Historically, the ant fauna of this landscape was probably restricted to natural gaps and disturbed areas.

  • Citation: Higgins, Robert J.; Lindgren, B. Staffan. 2006. The fine scale physical attributes of coarse woody debris and effects of surrounding stand structure on its utilization by ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in British Columbia, Canada. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-93. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 67-73
  • Posted Date: November 1, 2006
  • Modified Date: November 17, 2006
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