Invertebrate functional biodiversity in plantation forests

Stephen Pawson *1, Alwin Sky 2, Raphael Didham 2

1 Scion, PO Box 29 237, Christchurch 8540, New Zealand
2 School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, NZ

Plantation forests in New Zealand are dominated by fast growing exotic conifers (predominantly Pinus radiata) that are largely grown in even aged monospecific stands. Recent studies have shown that P. radiata stands can provide habitat for many native invertebrates, plants and birds, including threatened species. In New Zealand, forest managers are particularly keen to quantify the ecosystem services that are provided by plantation forests. This interest has been largely stimulated by the recent development of carbon markets and trading in carbon credits. Forest managers are keen to ‘monetarise’ other environmental services from forests, such as the provision of clean water, erosion control, and biodiversity conservation. However, presently, little is known of the functional role of invertebrate biodiversity  in New Zealand's plantation forests.   I provide a brief overview of what we know about the composition of invertebrate biodiversity in plantation forests and then report on two ongoing long-term studies that are investigating invertebrate functional biodiversity; 1) quantifying the role of wood borers and bark beetles in the decomposition of dead wood in plantations, and 2) the importance of understorey native plant species in exotic plantation stands as habitat for deadwood feeding and litter feeding invertebrates.

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