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The contribution of patch-scale conditions is greater than that of macroclimate in explaining local plant diversity in fragmented forests across Europe
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Number of Authors: 24
2015 (English)In: Global Ecology and Biogeography, ISSN 1466-822X, E-ISSN 1466-8238, Vol. 24, no 9, 1094-1105 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

AimMacroclimate is a major determinant of large-scale diversity patterns. However, the influence of smaller-scale factors on local diversity across large spatial extents is not well documented. Here, we quantify the relative importance of local (patch-scale), landscape-scale and macroclimatic drivers of herbaceous species diversity in small forest patches in agricultural landscapes across Europe. LocationDeciduous forest patches in eight regions along a macroclimatic gradient from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. MethodsThe diversity of forest specialists and generalists at three levels (whole forest patch, sampling plots within patches and between scales) was related to patch-scale (forest area, age, abiotic and biotic heterogeneity), landscape-scale (amount of forest, grasslands and hedgerows around the patch, patch isolation) and macroclimatic variables (temperature and precipitation) using generalized linear mixed models and variation partitioning for each group of variables. ResultsThe total amount of explained variation in diversity ranged from 8% for plot-scale diversity of generalists to 54% for patch-scale diversity of forest specialists. Patch-scale variables always explained more than 60% of the explained variation in diversity, mainly due to the positive effect of within-patch heterogeneity on patch-scale and between-scale diversities and to the positive effect of patch age on plot-scale diversity of forest specialists. Landscape-scale variables mainly contributed to the amount of explained variation in plot-scale diversity, being more important for forest specialists (21%) than for generalists (18%). Macroclimatic variables contributed a maximum of 11% to the plot-scale diversity of generalists. Main conclusionsMacroclimate poorly predicts local diversity across Europe, and herbaceous diversity is mainly explained by habitat features, less so by landscape structure. We show the importance of conserving old forest patches as refugia for typical forest species, and of enhancing the landscape context around the patches by reducing the degree of disturbance caused by agriculture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 24, no 9, 1094-1105 p.
Keyword [en]
Agricultural landscapes, biodiversity, forest, habitat fragmentation, habitat history, local conditions, macroclimate, macroclimatic gradient, smallFOREST, vegetation
National Category
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120894DOI: 10.1111/geb.12345ISI: 000359867400010OAI: diva2:859881
Available from: 2015-10-09 Created: 2015-09-18 Last updated: 2015-10-09Bibliographically approved

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Cousins, Sara A. O.Lindgren, Jessica
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Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology
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