Despite their role as keystone organisms, insect pollinator populations have declined across many regions. Although pollinator populations face a multitude of threats, among the most important is habitat loss and degradation. In eastern North America, forested landscapes are thought to serve as strongholds for robust pollinator populations, however, even these high-quality landscapes are increasingly unsuitable for pollinators due to suppression of natural disturbances, which results in mature forests with few floral resources. To enhance landscapes for forest-dependent wildlife, land managers increasingly recognize the value of silviculture for promoting forest regeneration to support early-successional species. Although timber harvest has proven to be an invaluable tool for enhancing forest pollinator habitat, the role of microhabitat components like log landings remains unassessed. Log landings (open areas where harvested logs are loaded for transport) may serve as an important microhabitat component of early seral stands because they are expected to support open conditions and high floral abundance. We sampled 20 log landing/timber harvest interior pairs for bees, butterflies, floral resources, and structural vegetation in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania from June-September 2019. Hierarchical distance models revealed that log landings supported twice as many bees (897 vs 351 bees/ha) and five times as many butterflies (433 vs 88 butterflies/ha) as timber harvest interiors. Likewise, log landings supported about 14 times as many floral resources than timber harvest interiors (109,572 vs 8,431/transect). Among log landings, those with the most floral resources also supported the most bees and butterflies. Collectively, our results support the hypothesis that log landings serve as concentrated resource hubs for bees and butterflies. Future work exploring the role of different plant species (e.g., native vs exotic) in habitat quality for early-successional pollinators would prove useful.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law