Kouba, Yacine and Martinez Garcia, Felipe and Frutos, Angel de and Alados, Concepcion
Plant β-diversity i in human-altered forest ecosystems: the importance of the structural, spatial, and topographical characteristics of stands in patterning plant species assemblages.
"European Journal of Forest Research", v. 133
An understanding of spatial patterns of plant species diversity and the factors that drive those patterns is critical for the development of appropriate biodiversity management in forest ecosystems. We studied the spatial organization of plants species in human- modified and managed oak forests (primarily, Quercus faginea) in the Central Pre- Pyrenees, Spain. To test whether plant community assemblages varied non-randomly across the spatial scales, we used multiplicative diversity partitioning based on a nested hierarchical design of three increasingly coarser spatial scales (transect, stand, region). To quantify the importance of the structural, spatial, and topographical characteristics of stands in patterning plant species assemblages and identify the determinants of plant diversity patterns, we used canonical ordination. We observed a high contribution of ˟-diversity to total -diversity and found ˟-diversity to be higher and ˞-diversity to be lower than expected by random distributions of individuals at different spatial scales. Results, however, partly depended on the weighting of rare and abundant species. Variables expressing the historical management intensities of the stand such as mean stand age, the abundance of the dominant tree species (Q. faginea), age structure of the stand, and stand size were the main factors that explained the compositional variation in plant communities. The results indicate that (1) the structural, spatial, and topographical characteristics of the forest stands have the greatest effect on diversity patterns, (2) forests in landscapes that have different land use histories are environmentally heterogeneous and, therefore, can experience high levels of compositional differentiation, even at local scales (e.g., within the same stand). Maintaining habitat heterogeneity at multiple spatial scales should be considered in the development of management plans for enhancing plant diversity and related functions in human-altered forests