Logging to ‘salvage’ economic returns from forests impacted by natural disturbances has become increasingly prevalent globally. Despite potential negative effects on biodiversity, salvage logging is often conducted, even in areas otherwise excluded from logging and reserved for nature conservation, inter alia because strategic priorities for post-disturbance management are widely lacking. A review of the existing literature revealed that most studies investigating the effects of salvage logging on biodiversity have been conducted less than five years following natural disturbances, and focused on non-saproxylic organisms. A meta-analysis across 24 species groups revealed that salvage logging significantly decreases numbers of species of eight broad taxonomic groups. Richness of dead-wood dependent taxa (i.e. saproxylic organisms) decreased more strongly than richness of non-saproxylic taxa. By contrast, taxonomic groups typically associated with open habitats increased in the number of species after salvage logging. By analysing 134 original species abundance matrices, we demonstrate that salvage logging significantly alters community composition in seven of 17 species groups, particularly affecting saproxylic assemblages. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that salvage logging is not consistent with the management objectives of protected areas. Substantial changes, such as the retention of dead wood in naturally disturbed forests, are needed to support biodiversity. Future research should investigate the amount and spatio-temporal distribution of retained dead wood needed to maintain all components of biodiversity.
Thorn, S.; Bässler, C.; Brandl, R., Burton, P.J.; Cahall, R.; Campbell, J.L.; Castro, J.; Choi, C.-Y;, Cobb, T., Donato, D.C.; Durska, E.; Fontaine, J.B.; Gauthier, S.; Hebert, C.; Hothorn, T.; Hutto, R.L.; Lee, E.-J.; Leverkus, A.B.; Lindenmayer, D.B.; Obrist, M.K.; Rost, J.; Seibold, S.; Seidl, R., Thom, D.; Waldron, K.; Wermelinger, B.; Winter, M.-B.; Zmihorski, M.; Müller, J. 2017. Impacts of salvage logging on biodiversity – a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecolology. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12945