Biodiversity response to forest structure and management: Comparing species richness, conservation relevant species and functional diversity as metrics in forest conservation

Biodiversity response to forest structure and management: Comparing species richness, conservation relevant species and functional diversity as metrics in forest conservation

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Biodiversity response to forest structure and management: Comparing species richness, conservation relevant species and functional diversity as metrics in forest conservation

Highlights

Forest management strongly affected the presence of specialist species.

Accounting only for species richness may provide biased information for conservation.

Functional approach is promising for better-informed conservation planning.

Lists of conservation-relevant species are effective for understudied groups.

A multi-taxon framework is needed for guiding conservation action.

Abstract

Aim

We investigated the consistency between richness and trait-based diversity metrics in capturing the effects of management-related habitat factors on biodiversity. The choice of biodiversity metrics can substantially affect the evaluation of conservation tools. However, the relative sensitivity of different metrics is not well investigated, especially in a multi-taxon framework.

Location

European beech forests in Denmark.

Methods

We studied 20 beech stands comprising four management types (from intensively managed to long unmanaged stands). We analyzed how management-related environmental variables were reflected in the measure of: (i) species richness, (ii) number of conservation-relevant species (red-listed species and old-growth forest indicators) and (iii) functional diversity targeting five organism groups with different habitat requirements, i.e. vascular plants, epiphytic lichens and bryophytes, saproxylic fungi and breeding birds.

Results

Plain species richness at stand level was generally misleading, as it did not capture changes in the number of conservation relevant species with changes in management-related environmental variables. The interpretation of functional responses was most informative for the better known vascular plants, while responses were more fragmented for the other organism groups. Overall, however, functional responses were consistent with a loss of specialization and progressive simplification of species assemblages from long-unmanaged to intensively managed stands.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the occurrence of conservation-relevant species is a sound and relevant metric for planning and evaluating conservation actions, especially for less studied organism groups (e.g., saproxylic fungi and epiphytes). The functional approach is promising, but presupposes the availability of databases of relevant traits.

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Keywords

European beech forests

Birds

Community-weighted mean

Epiphytes

GLMM

Habitat structure

Multi-taxon biodiversity

Rao’s quadratic diversity

Vascular plants

Wood-inhabiting fungi

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© 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Author :

Superforest

via ScienceDirect Publication: Forest Ecology and Management https://ift.tt/2zaqiu8

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