Current issue: 55(2)
Under compilation: 55(3)
Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats to biodiversity worldwide. For example, nearly 80% of peatlands in southern Finland have been drained. There is thus a need to safeguard the remaining pristine mires and to restore degraded ones. Ants play a pivotal role in many ecosystems and like many keystone plant species, shape ecosystem conditions for other biota. The effects of mire restoration and subsequent vegetation succession on ants, however, are poorly understood. We inventoried tree stands, vegetation, water-table level, and ants (with pitfall traps) in nine mires in southern Finland to explore differences in habitats, vegetation and ant assemblages among pristine, drained (30–40 years ago) and recently restored (1–3 years ago) pine mires. We expected that restoring the water-table level by ditch filling and reconstructing sparse tree stands by cuttings will recover mire vegetation and ants. We found predictable responses in habitat structure, floristic composition and ant assemblage structure both to drainage and restoration. However, for mire-specialist ants the results were variable and longer-term monitoring is needed to confirm the success of restoration since these social insects establish perennial colonies with long colony cycles. We conclude that restoring the water-table level and tree stand structure seem to recover the characteristic vegetation and ant assemblages in the short term. This recovery was likely enhanced because drained mires still had both acrotelm and catotelm, and connectedness was still reasonable for mire organisms to recolonize the restored mires either from local refugia or from populations of nearby mires.
The abundance of main invertebrate groups was studied in clear-fellings, forests and in edges between them in Northern Finland in June-August 1983. Five trapping transects were used. Each transect had 48 pitfall traps and 16 window traps on the ground and 4-6 window traps in bushes or trees.
Invertebrate groups Homoptera, Diptera, Formicidae, Coleoptera and Gastropoda were more abundant in forest than in clear-cuts according to the pitfall data. In window traps the catches of all the main groups were larger in the forest side. Six out of the eight most important groups preferred the edge in pitfall data. Formicidae, other Hymenoptera, Arachnida and Gastropoda were more numerous in the edges than in the interior habitats in both sides of the edge. In window trap material no consistent edge preference was found in clear-fellings, but in the forest side it was evident. Coleoptera and Arachnida preferred the edge on both sides of it.
The variations in the catches of the invertebrate groups were studied by regression analyses. Independent variables used were the distance to the edge, the coverage of mosses, litter, mineral soil, grasses and sedges, herbs and the density of saplings. The percentage of variance explained in multiple regression analyses were highest for the group of other Hymenoptera and Arachnida and lowest for Coleoptera and Homoptera. As regards the explanation power of the independent variables the distance to the edge and the density of saplings clearly exceeded the others.
The results support the assumption that the breeding bird densities at forest edges, which is often high, may depend on high prey density there.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.