The role of dead wood in maintaining arthropod diversity on the forest floorThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Dead wood is a major component of forests and contributes to overall diversity, primarily by supporting insects that feed directly on or in it. Further, a variety of organisms benefit by feeding on those insects. What is not well known is how or whether dead wood influences the composition of the arthropod community that is not solely dependent on it as a food resource, or whether woody debris influences prey available to generalist predators. One group likely to be affected by dead wood is ground-dwelling arthropods. We studied the effect of adding large dead wood to unburned and frequently burned pine stands to determine if dead wood was used more when the litter and understory plant community are removed. We also studied the effect of annual removal of dead wood from large (10-ha) plots over a 5-year period on ground-dwelling arthropods. In related studies, we examined the relationships among an endangered woodpecker that forages for prey on live trees, its prey, and dead wood in the forest. The results of these and other studies show that dead wood can influence the abundance and diversity of the ground-dwelling arthropod community and of prey available to generalist predators not foraging directly on dead trees.