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Effect of continuity, area, connectivity and surrounding landscape on forest specialist plant species in deciduous forest
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Biodiversity is important and habitat changes could pose a real threat for maintaining biodiversity. Some species respond quickly to changes, whereas many of the plant species in deciduous forest ecosystems usually have slow reaction time to habitat change. Forest management today has changed a lot from forest management a hundred years ago, resulting in a major loss of both habitat area and species diversity, making particularly old deciduous forests ecosystems critically endangered today. Many of the plant species associated with deciduous forests are small and dispersal limited and sensitive to habitat quality. This makes them ideal for monitoring deciduous forest habitats because if ancient forest specialist plant species are thriving, other organisms depending on deciduous forest habitats probably are too. Most of what is deciduous forest today was either semi-open forests or meadows a hundred years ago. This study aims to investigate if there is any effect on ancient forest specialist plant species diversity in deciduous forests today depending on continuity (management 100 years ago) and spatial properties such as current patch area, amount of surrounding forest today and in the past and distance to forest with long continuity. This study was carried out in the county of Södermanland south of Stockholm in the hemi-boreal climate zone. To find areas with old deciduous forests I used an inventory of hardwood deciduous forest (Ädellövskogsinventeringen) and a digitised version of an historical map from 1900 (Härradskartan). Ten former meadows adjacent to ten old forests and ten isolated former meadows were randomly selected, in total 30 patches. In each patch I inventoried plant species occurrence and abundance in 10 plots in May-June 2016, a total of 300 plots. Abundance were calculated from 1-4 and additional plant species in the patch but outside the plots were noted. Only plant species associated with ancient forests were used for the statistical analyses (appendix 1), in three categories: total number of forest specialists per patch, number of forest specialists per plot and abundance of forest specialists per plot.

I have in my study shown that today there is no difference in forest plant species diversity in old deciduous forest situated on old forest areas compared to those on former meadows. This might be that forest specialists are able to colonise former meadows, even in the most isolated areas in a hundred years, or that the forest specialist plant species were already there when the area were used as meadows. This suggests that at least today deciduous forest on old forests and former meadows are equally important for preserving forest biodiversity. Patch area and the amount of surrounding old deciduous forest had a positive effect on both forest specialist plant species diversity and abundance. However, I found it hard to separate the effect of patch area from that of the surrounding old deciduous forest, which further reinforces the suggestion that today there is no significant difference between deciduous forests situated on old forests compared to that on former meadows.

When preserving forest areas for future generations it is important not only to preserve old forest areas but the surrounding former meadows as well, making the area as large as possible. Isolated former meadows are equally important for preserving forest biodiversity, however the surrounding area might have to be restored to deciduous forest to get a large enough area for the forest specialists to persist even in the future. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , p. 36
Keyword [en]
landscape ecology, effect of continuity, effect of area, effect of connectivity, effect of surrounding landscape, forest plant species, deciduous forest, woodland
Keyword [sv]
landskapsekologi, lövskog, effekt av kontinuitet, effekt av storlek, effekt av konnektivitet, effekt av omgivande landskap
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139909OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-139909DiVA, id: diva2:1075560
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Available from: 2017-03-02 Created: 2017-02-20 Last updated: 2017-03-02Bibliographically approved

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