Hermit beetle as an umbrella species
Hermit beetle is an umbrella species. By saving its habitat you can save habitat for tens of other species.
Hermit beetle (lot. Osmoderma barnabita) – is a species in the family Scarabaeidae. Its body is of 22-32 mm length, black or black-brown, with a slightly metallic shade. Species is listed in Red Data Book of Lithuania. Species is among the most vulnerable ones because of lack of suitable habitats or too long distances between patches of suitable habitats. To get a sight of a hermit beetle is a huge success – adult beetles are taking flights in July-August and live for about 1 month.
In Lithuania, larvae of the beetle evolve inside rotten wood of broad-leaved trees, most often oaks. Time of development – 2-4 years. In our climatic conditions, trunk of such an oak tree must also be warmed up by sunshine. Although the beetle can live in the trees in the outskirts of the forests or even inside the forest, typical its habitat is a wooded pasture. Usually, this type of habitat consists not only of the forest flora and fauna – here you can find even some rare species typical only for open areas.
Mature tree as a unique habitat
Old trees look impressive not only as a historical or cultural heritage that enrich landscape of our country, but also serve as a unique habitat for plethora of species. More than hundred-year-old oaks, both individual and groups of trees, are especially valuable. In one such tree one can find hundreds of species of animals, plants and fungus, that altogether is more than 1000 different species of organisms associated with old mature oaks. Some of these organisms are adapted to live only in old trees and their survival directly depends on the destiny of such trees.
Conservation of such species is possible only in places where a considerably large population of the species can be found. Conservation of species have no future prospects in place with only one suitable tree or rotten log. Since existing habitat sites are quite distanced from each other, every tree suitable as a temporary shelter is important for all of the mentioned species. Even unprotected, it can still play an important role as a stepping element between sites. Settled-in insect or entrenched spore of fungus later will be able to move further to another temporary shelter or other protected area. Finding and conservation of old trees is one of the main activities of this project.
Importance of deadwood
It sounds strange, but dried trees, snags and fallen trees are integral part of a healthy forest. Fallen trees which obstruct mushroom pickers, snags with cavities, rotten parts of trunks and other parts of dead trees, which for the town-dwellers look as a result of untidy woods, make woods into real forest. Dead trees and their parts called deadwood is habitat, food source or temporal shelter for thousands of different organisms.
It is known today, that deadwood does not cause diseases in the other trees, because insects and fungi are immensely particular about their food. The ones, which erode wood of the dead trees, do not feed on the live trees. Whereas the pests are looking for weakened live trees and, as soon as these trees die, the pests move to the other live trees. Also, it is known, that a small part of trees dies in a stand every year and this does not have negative influence for the live trees. Since deadwood is very important for biodiversity, according to the Lithuanian legislation some snags and fallen trees have to be left while cutting down the forests.