Community structure of canopy arthropods associated with Abies amabilis branches in a variable retention forest stand on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.




Wilkerson, Stacey Lee

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Clearcut harvesting can create conditions unfavourable to forest regeneration. In response, variable retention harvest methods are being investigated in montane forests on Vancouver Island, Canada. The effect of this overstory removal is unknown for canopy microarthropods, especially oribatid mites. As mites contribute significantly to nutrient cycling and decomposition processes in the canopy, changes in community structure and abundance may have dramatic effects on forest productivity. I studied the effects of two variable retention treatments, patch-cut and shelterwood systems, on arthropod communities associated with Abies amabilis (amabilis fir) branches and lichens. Changes in community structure were evident among the treatments and an old-growth control site. I also investigated the use of lichen abundance as a surrogate for oribatid mite abundance because it is time consuming and laborious to collect, count and identify microarthropods. Lichen abundance was a good predictor of mites in the old-growth and shelterwood, but not in the patch-cuts. Lichen abundance estimates should not replace biotic inventories, but can he used as an indicator when rapid biodiversity assessments are required.



mites, forest regeneration, clearcut, forestry