What can insects tell us about forests?

New network of 24 forest monitoring plots in Wales to monitor insects within and up to the forest canopy level

News from Forest Research: July 2009

Scaffold tower to allow access into and above the forest canopy

A new network of 24 forest monitoring plots has been established in Wales to monitor insects within and up to the forest canopy level. The network forms part of a research programme to test the hypothesis that increasing the structural complexity of forest stands will lead to greater biological diversity, which in turn will mean fewer pest problems.

Each monitoring plot contains a scaffold tower of between 4m and 24m in height to allow access into and above the forest canopy. The towers have been erected over a two-year period in stands of even-aged and mixed-age Sitka spruce across four forest blocks. Traps located on the towers complement a series located at ground level and aim to establish the abundance and diversity of insect species, in particular predators and parasitoids. Two types of traps – yellow pan traps and flight interception traps – are suspended from wooden arms attached to the scaffold towers to catch insects within and above the canopy. The traps are emptied and reset every two weeks from April to October. Insect samples are taken to the Forest Research fieldstation at Shobdon where they are transferred to preservative for later counting by FR’s entomologists.

The monitoring will continue until October 2010, after which time the samples will be assessed and the total numbers of insects collated and analysed. The results of this study will tell us how much structural complexity is required to achieve biodiversity and pest management benefits.

For more information contact Nick Fielding.

     

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This and other news stories can be found in the July 2009 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.