Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (870.0 KB bytes)

Title: Bark coverage and insects influence wood decomposition: direct and indirect effects

Author: Ulyshen, Michael D.; Muller, Jorg; Seibold, Sebastian;

Date: 2016

Source: Applied Soil Ecology

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Rates of terrestrial wood decomposition are known to vary widely depending on regional and local climatic conditions, substrate characteristics and the organisms involved but the influence of many factors remain poorly quantified. We sought to determine how bark and insects contribute to decomposition in a southeastern U.S. forest. Open-topped stainless steel pans with screened bottoms were used to prevent subterranean termite (Rhinotermitidae: Reticulitermes spp.) colonization from “protected” logs. After a 20-month study period, we compared mass loss and lignin content between these and logs assigned to “unprotected” treatments that permitted termite colonization. The experiment was repeated for 1) logs from which bark had or had not been initially removed and 2) logs with sealed or unsealed ends. Logs with bark lost significantly (2.4-fold) more mass than those without bark, likely due to the moisture-conserving properties of bark. Logs with unsealed ends lost significantly more mass than those with sealed ends. There was no significant difference in mass loss between protected and unprotected logs but logs with visible termite activity lost significantly more mass than those without termite damage. Few differences in lignin content were detected in this study but when logs with bark were analyzed separately, those with visible damage from long-horned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) had lower lignin content than those without cerambycid activity. This suggests that cerambycids may promote decomposition indirectly through interactions with fungi or other organisms capable of degrading lignin. Our results suggest that insects can have significant direct and indirect effects on wood decomposition and clearly demonstrate the importance of bark in determining wood decay rates and insect activity.

Keywords: Blattodea Ecosystem services Isoptera Saproxylic

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Ulyshen, Michael D.; Muller, Jorg; Seibold, Sebastian 2016. Bark coverage and insects influence wood decomposition: direct and indirect effects. Applied Soil Ecology, Vol. 105: 6 pages.: 25-30.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.