Responses of parasitoids to saproxylic hosts and habitat: a multi-scale study using experimental logs Academic Article uri icon


  • Species belonging to higher trophic levels are particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and consequential host population declines, but detection of effects depends on observation scale. We investigated the effects of habitat and host availability at multiple scales on parasitoids of early successional saproxylic beetles in middle boreal Sweden, where forestry has led to habitat fragmentation and coarse woody debris (CWD) loss. Parasitoid wasps and beetle hosts were collected from nine locations, each containing three spruce-dominated stand types (clear-cut, mature managed and unmanaged stands), using emergence traps on experimental CWD. We measured local CWD volumes and determined the availability of forests of a suitable age within the landscape. We tested parasitoid responses to stand type, CWD volume, abundance of known and probable hosts and longitude. Additionally, we tested whether parasitoids responded to the area of habitat of a suitable age within radii from 0.2 to 10 km. Stand type appeared in best-fit models for all common species, suggesting that wasps respond strongly to habitat at local scales. Longitude (largely climate) featured commonly, but CWD volume was never significant. Host abundance appeared in best-fit models for three of five common species, proving significant only for Bracon obscurator, the abundance of which correlated with that of Orthotomicus laricis at both trap and site levels. Rhimphoctona spp. also correlated significantly with its known host Tetropium castaneum at the trap level. B. obscurator responded to habitat area at scales of 0.6-1 km and Cosmophorus regius responded at radii greater than 7 km, while the larger species did not respond strongly to habitat area. The role of habitat area at greater scales thus varied greatly amongst species, but our data suggest that dispersal of these common early successional species may not be strongly restricted at the current scale of fragmentation of their boreal habitats.


  • Gibb, H
  • Hilszczański, J
  • Hjältén, J
  • Danell, K
  • Ball, JP
  • Pettersson, RB
  • Alinvi, O

publication date

  • February 2008