Research on biodiversity in managed and primeval forests of Ukraine

Primeval forests harbour intact species communities. They represent unique refuges worthy of conservation and can provide valuable information about forest dynamics, species interactions and related ecological processes.


  • Lead school School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences
  • Institute Multifunctional Forest Management
  • Research unit Forest Ecosystem and Management
  • Funding organisation Others
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2026
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Thibault Lachat
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Thibault Lachat
  • Project staff Prof. Dr. Thibault Lachat
    Romain Angeleri
    Nicolas Roth
  • Partner National University of Uzhgorod
    Staatssekretariat für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation SBFI
    Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL/FNP
  • Keywords ecosystem function, saproxylic species, dead wood, forest management, old-growth forests, experimental approach, litter bags, branch bundle, dendrotelms, Fomes fomentarius


The dynamics and ecological processes in primeval forests and how these are affected by management are still poorly understood, but crucial to design effective management strategies. In this project, we aim to better understand species interactions and related ecosystem functions in different habitats or substrates such as dead wood, leaf litter, and tree microhabitats (water-filled tree holes, fruiting bodies of saprophytic fungi).

Course of action

Whereas biodiversity studies in primeval forests were mainly based on correlative ecology up to now, we use experimental approaches in the field to increase our mechanistic understanding. In addition, we have installed control plots along a gradient of management intensity to discover differences between managed and unmanaged forests. In total, 90 study plots were selected in 3 different regions influding each primeval, old-growth and managed forests. On each study plot, one branch bundle, litter bags, artificial dendrotelms and fruiting bodies of polypors were installed. In a second step, these substrates will be removed from the forest to study the communities of arthropods involved in the decay process.


This project has started in spring 2023. Together with Martin Gossner (WSL) and with Maksym Chumak (National University of Uzhgorod), we supervise a PhD candidate (Yurii Motruk) and a Postdoc (Valeriia Dedus) both from the National University of Uzhgorod. The first results will arrive during 2024.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 15: Life on land