The importance of forest type, tree species and wood posture to saproxylic wasp (Hymenoptera) communities in the southeastern United States.
Although the forests of the southeastern United States are among the most productive and diverse in North America, information needed to develop conservation guidelines for the saproxylic (i.e., dependent on dead wood) fauna endemic to the region is lacking. Particularly little is known about the habitat associations and requirements of saproxylic parasitoids even though these organisms may be even more vulnerable than their hosts. We sampled parasitoids emerging from dead wood taken from two forest types (an upland pine-dominated forest and a lowland hardwood dominated forest), three tree species (Liquidambar styraciflua L., Pinus taeda L., and Quercus nigra L.) and two wood postures (standing dead trees (i.e., snags) and fallen logs) in South Carolina. Parasitoid abundance did not differ between forest types or among tree species, but did differ between wood postures, being higher in snags than logs. This difference may have been due to the logs being in contact with the ground or surrounding vegetation and therefore less accessible to parasitoids. Parasitoid abundance and density decreased with height on both snags and logs. Species richness did not differ between forest types, among tree species or between wood postures. According to analysis of similarities, parasitoid communities did not differ between forest types, but did differ among tree species. The wasp communities associated with the different tree species and posture combinations were distinct. In addition, communities associated with the upper boles and crowns of snags were distinct from those occurring lower on snags. These results emphasize the importance of maintaining tree diversity in managed forests as well as retaining or creating entire snags at the time of harvest.
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