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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Pages (from-to)707-717
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Birds, Community-weighted mean, Epiphytes, European beech forests, GLMM, Habitat structure, Multi-taxon biodiversity, Rao's quadratic diversity, Vascular plants, Wood-inhabiting fungi

ID: 204044003