Fauna Community Convergence During Decomposition of Deadwood Across Tree Species and Forests

Juan Zuo, Matty P. Berg, Jurgen Van Hal, Richard S. P. Van Logtestijn, Leo Goudzwaard, Mariet M. Hefting, Lourens Poorter, Frank J. Sterck, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen

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Natural forests contain a large amount of deadwood, which is a key contributor to biodiversity, especially by providing dynamic habitats and resources for a huge variety of invertebrates. However, for managing forest biodiversity we need to better understand what drives the dynamics of invertebrate communities in deadwood. We hypothesized that the invertebrate communities in logs will converge from initial to middle decomposition stage among tree species and forest stands as the differentiating role of bark diminishes and xylem traits converge during decay. We investigated invertebrate communities in decomposing logs of ten tree species over 4 years in the “tree cemetery” LOGLIFE experiment in two contrasting forests in the Netherlands. The predominant faunal groups studied were Annelida (earthworms), Isopoda (woodlice), Chilopoda (centipedes), Diplopoda (millipedes), Diptera (flies, midges) and Coleoptera (beetles). We demonstrated that (1) tree species, decay stages and incubation forests all had effects on the invertebrate communities; (2) community compositions of fauna in logs first were very dissimilar and then became more similar among tree species through the decay years; and (3) this converging pattern of faunal community dynamics also manifested itself, both across and within given tree species, between two contrasting forests over decomposition time. Thus, invertebrate communities generally converged during deadwood decay, which adds fundamental insights into the role of interacting drivers of community succession. These findings also highlight that, both within and among forests, more functionally different tree species and logs in different decay stages, will support relatively high biodiversity of invertebrate communities; these patterns may inform forest management strategies aimed at maximizing biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926–938
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Early online date2 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Deadwood
  • Decomposition
  • Invertebrate
  • Macro-detritivore
  • Tree species
  • Trunk


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