Impacts of salvage logging on biodiversity: A meta-analysis




Thorn, Simon
Bassler, Claus
Brandl, Roland
Burton, Philip J.
Cahall, Rebecca
Campbell, John L.
Castro, Jorge
Choi, Chang-Yong
Cobb, Tyler
Donato, Daniel C.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


British Ecological Society


Logging to “salvage” economic returns from forests affected by natural disturbances has become increasingly prevalent globally. Despite potential negative effects on biodiversity, salvage logging is often conducted, even in areas otherwise excluded from logging and reserved for nature conservation, inter alia because strategic priorities for post-disturbance management are widely lacking. 2. A review of the existing literature revealed that most studies investigating the effects of salvage logging on biodiversity have been conducted less than 5 years following natural disturbances, and focused on non-saproxylic organisms. 3. A meta-analysis across 24 species groups revealed that salvage logging significantly decreases numbers of species of eight taxonomic groups. Richness of dead wood dependent taxa (i.e. saproxylic organisms) decreased more strongly than richness of non-saproxylic taxa. In contrast, taxonomic groups typically associated with open habitats increased in the number of species after salvage logging. 4. By analysing 134 original species abundance matrices, we demonstrate that salvage logging significantly alters community composition in 7 of 17 species groups, particularly affecting saproxylic assemblages. 5. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that salvage logging is not consistent with the management objectives of protected areas. Substantial changes, such as the retention of dead wood in naturally disturbed forests, are needed to support biodiversity. Future research should investigate the amount and spatio-temporal distribution of retained dead wood needed to maintain all components of biodiversity.



bark beetle, climate change, dead wood, disturbed forest, fire, natural disturbance, postdisturbance logging, salvage logging, saproxylic taxa, windstorm



Journal of Applied Ecology


Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights



Restricted until