Hierarchic species-area relationships and the management of forest habitat islands in intensive farmland


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Hierarchic species-area relationships and the management of forest habitat islands in intensive farmland
Forest Ecology and Management
Lomba A., Vaz A.S., Moreira F., Pradinho Honrado J.
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Habitat loss and fragmentation due to land use changes are major threats to biodiversity in forest ecosystems, and they are expected to have important impacts on many taxa and at various spatial scales.
Species richness and area relationships (SARs) have been used to assess species diversity patterns and drivers, and thereby in the establishment of conservation and management strategies. Here we propose a hierarchical approach to achieve deeper insights on SARs in small forest islets in intensive farmland and to address the impacts of decreasing naturalness on such relationships.
In the intensive dairy landscapes of Northwest Portugal, where small forest stands (dominated by pines, eucalypts or both) represent semi-natural habitat islands, 50 small forest stands were selected and surveyed for vascular plant diversity. A hierarchical analytical framework was devised to determine species richness and inter- and intra-patch SARs for the whole set of forest patches (general patterns) and for each type of forest (specific patterns). Differences in SARs for distinct groups were also tested by considering subsets of species (native, alien, woody, and herbaceous).
Overall, values for species richness were confirmed to be different between forest patches exhibiting different levels of naturalness. Whereas higher values of plant diversity were found in pine stands, higher values for alien species were observed in eucalypt stands. Total area of forest (inter-patch SAR) was found not to have a significant impact on species richness for any of the targeted groups of species. However, significant intra-patch SARs were obtained for all groups of species and forest types.
A hierarchical approach was successfully applied to scrutinise SARs along a gradient of forest naturalness in intensively managed landscapes. Dominant canopy tree and management intensity were found to reflect differently on distinct species groups as well as to compensate for increasing stand area, buffering SARs among patches, but not within patches. Thus, the maintenance of small semi-natural patches dominated by pines, under extensive practices of forest management, will promote native plant diversity while at the same time contributing to limit the expansion of problematic alien invasive species.
Dairy farmlands, Exotic plantations, Habitat fragmentation, Plant diversity, Semi-natural forests, Species-area relationship (SARs)
Web of science
Create date
28/01/2013 17:46
Last modification date
20/08/2019 14:49
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