Stand structure and local landscape variables are the dominant factors explaining shrub and tree diversity in Mediterranean forests
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Plant diversity is a core value of forests and is rapidly becoming a primary management goal under the threat of global environmental changes. Changing conditions, including forestry interventions, or lack of them, may endanger its preservation. Abandonment of management in forests previously subjected to a multipurpose silviculture and secondary succession is hypothesized to have altered the biodiverse Mediterranean forests in recent years and affected plant diversity. We used data in national forest inventory plots and local landscape ecology metrics from forest cartography, combined with artificial neural networks, to predict richness and Shannon diversity indices for the tree and shrub layers of several Mediterranean forest types. We found that richness and diversity depend on forest structure and on local landscape patterns, and also, though to a lesser degree, on site conditions (mainly soil pH), but not on forest intervention. In order to benefit plant diversity in the forest landscapes analyzed, forest management practices need to promote diameter variety, the presence of large trees, tree cover, variation in the height of trees and shrubs, and a heterogeneous local landscape at the stand level. Aleppo pine forests and Scots pine forests showed more consistent results in their models than cork oak and black pine forests, both of which require further research.
Is part ofSustainability, 2021, vol. 13, núm. 21, p. 1-19
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