Invertebrate diversity in Irish and British forests

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Fuller, Lauren
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University College Cork
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Ireland and Britain were once covered in natural forest, but extensive anthropogenic deforestation reduced forest cover to less than 1% and 5 %, respectively, by the beginning of the 20th century. Large-scale afforestation has since increased the level of forest cover to 11% in Ireland and 12% in Britain, with the majority of planted forests comprising small monoculture plantations, many of which are of non - native conifer tree species. At present the forest cover of Ireland and Britain generally consists of small areas of remnant semi-natural woodland and pockets of these plantation forests within a predominantly agricultural landscape. Invertebrates comprise a large proportion of the biodiversity found within forested habitats. In particular, spiders and carabid beetles play an important role in food webs as both predators and prey and respond to small-scale changes in habitat structure, meaning they are particularly sensitive to forest management. Hoverflies play an important role in control and pollination and have been successfully used as indicators of habitat disturbance and quality. This research addressed a number of topics pertinent to the forest types present in the contemporary Irish and British landscapes and aimed to investigate the invertebrate diversity of these forests. Spiders and carabid beetles were sampled using pitfall trapping and hoverflies were sampled using Malaise net trapping. Topics included the impacts of afforestation, the importance of open space, the choice of tree species, and the use of indicators for biodiversity assessment, as well as rare native woodlands and the effect of grazing on invertebrate diversity. The results are discussed and evidence-based recommendations are made for forest policy and management to protect and enhance invertebrate biodiversity in order to promote sustainable forest management in Ireland and Britain.
Biodiversity , Spider , Forest , Invertebrate
Fuller, L. 2013. Invertebrate diversity in Irish and British forests. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.