In production forests, a common silvicultural objective is enhancing tree growth rates. The growth rate influences both mechanical and biochemical properties of wood, which may have an impact on dead wood inhabiting (i.e. saproxylic) species. In this study, we tested for the first time whether tree growth rates affect dead-wood associated assemblages in general and the occurrence of red-listed species in particular. We sampled saproxylic beetles (eclector traps) and fungi (DNA metabarcoding of wood samples) in dead trunks of Norway spruce (Picea abies), which had different growth rates within the same hemiboreal forests in Sweden. A high proportion of fungi showed a positive association to increasing tree growth. This resulted in higher fungal richness in fast-grown trees both at the trunk scale and across multiple studied trunks. Such patterns were not observed for saproxylic beetles. However, a set of species (both beetles and fungi) preferred slow-grown wood. Moreover, the total number of red-listed species was highest in slow-grown trunks. We conclude that dead wood from slow-grown trees hosts relatively fewer saproxylic species, but a part of these may be vulnerable to production forestry. It implies that slow-grown trees should be a target in nature conservation. However, where slow-grown trees are absent, for instance in forests managed for a high biomass production, increasing the volumes of dead wood from fast-grown trees may support many species.
Keywords: Biotic homogenization; Coarse woody debris; Joint species distribution model; Microbiota; Threatened species.
© 2021. The Author(s).