A1 Journal article (refereed)
High-resolution 3D forest structure explains ecomorphological trait variation in assemblages of saproxylic beetles (2023)

Drag, L., Burner, R. C., Stephan, J. G., Birkemoe, T., Doerfler, I., Gossner, M. M., Magdon, P., Ovaskainen, O., Potterf, M., Schall, P., Snäll, T., Sverdrup‐Thygeson, A., Weisser, W., & Müller, J. (2023). High-resolution 3D forest structure explains ecomorphological trait variation in assemblages of saproxylic beetles. Functional Ecology, 37(1), 150-161. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14188

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsDrag, Lukas; Burner, Ryan C.; Stephan, Jörg G.; Birkemoe, Tone; Doerfler, Inken; Gossner, Martin M.; Magdon, Paul; Ovaskainen, Otso; Potterf, Mária; Schall, Peter; et al.

Journal or seriesFunctional Ecology



Publication year2023

Publication date23/09/2022


Issue number1

Pages range150-161


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/83377


Climate, topography and the 3D structure of forests are major drivers affecting local species communities. However, little is known about how the specific functional traits of saproxylic (wood-living) beetles, involved in the recycling of wood, might be affected by those environmental characteristics.

Here we combine ecological and morphological traits available for saproxylic beetles and airborne laser scanning (ALS) data in Bayesian trait-based joint species distribution models to study how traits drive the distributions of more than 230 species in temperate forests of Europe.

We found that elevation (as a proxy for temperature and precipitation) and the proportion of conifers played important roles in species occurrences while variables related to habitat heterogeneity and forest complexity were less relevant. Further, we showed that local communities were shaped by environmental variation primarily through their ecological traits whereas morphological traits were involved only marginally. As predicted, ecological traits influenced species’ responses to forest structure, and to other environmental variation, with canopy niche, wood decay niche, and host preference as the most important ecological traits. Conversely, no links between morphological traits and environmental characteristics were observed. Both models, however, revealed strong phylogenetic signal in species’ response to environmental characteristics.

These findings imply that alterations of climate and tree species composition have the potential to alter saproxylic beetle communities in temperate forests. Additionally, ecological traits help explain species’ responses to environmental characteristics and thus should prove useful in predicting their responses to future change. It remains challenging, however, to link simple morphological traits to species’ complex ecological niches.

Keywordsbiotic communitiesbeetlesspecies surveyphylogenyenvironmental changesclimate changesforestsThree-dimensional imaginglidarBayesian analysis

Free keywordsenvironmental gradient; functional traits; HMSC; LiDAR; Bayesian modelling; airborne laser scanning; Coleoptera; phylogeny

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

Preliminary JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 17:06