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Local and landscape-level diversity effects on forest functioning


Oehri, Jacqueline; Bürgin, Marvin; Schmid, Bernhard; Niklaus, Pascal A (2020). Local and landscape-level diversity effects on forest functioning. PLoS ONE, 15(5):e0233104.

Abstract

Research of the past decades has shown that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of ecosystem functioning. However, most of this biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) research focused on experimental communities on small areas where environmental context was held constant. Whether the established BEF relationships also apply to natural or managed ecosystems that are embedded in variable landscape contexts remains unclear. In this study, we therefore investigated biodiversity effects on ecosystem functions in 36 forest stands that were located across a vast range of environmental conditions in managed landscapes of Central Europe (Switzerland). Specifically, we approximated forest productivity by leaf area index and forest phenology by growing-season length and tested effects of tree species richness and land-cover richness on these variables. We then examined the correlation and the confounding of these local and landscape-level diversity effects with environmental context variables related to forest stand structure (number of trees), landscape structure (land-cover edge density), climate (annual precipitation) and topography (mean altitude). We found that of all tested variables tree species richness was among the most important determinants of forest leaf area index and growing-season length. The positive effects of tree species richness on these two ecosystem variables were remarkably consistent across the different environmental conditions we investigated and we found little evidence of a context-dependent change in these biodiversity effects. Land-cover richness was not directly related to local forest functions but could nevertheless play a role via a positive effect on tree species richness.

Abstract

Research of the past decades has shown that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of ecosystem functioning. However, most of this biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) research focused on experimental communities on small areas where environmental context was held constant. Whether the established BEF relationships also apply to natural or managed ecosystems that are embedded in variable landscape contexts remains unclear. In this study, we therefore investigated biodiversity effects on ecosystem functions in 36 forest stands that were located across a vast range of environmental conditions in managed landscapes of Central Europe (Switzerland). Specifically, we approximated forest productivity by leaf area index and forest phenology by growing-season length and tested effects of tree species richness and land-cover richness on these variables. We then examined the correlation and the confounding of these local and landscape-level diversity effects with environmental context variables related to forest stand structure (number of trees), landscape structure (land-cover edge density), climate (annual precipitation) and topography (mean altitude). We found that of all tested variables tree species richness was among the most important determinants of forest leaf area index and growing-season length. The positive effects of tree species richness on these two ecosystem variables were remarkably consistent across the different environmental conditions we investigated and we found little evidence of a context-dependent change in these biodiversity effects. Land-cover richness was not directly related to local forest functions but could nevertheless play a role via a positive effect on tree species richness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:14 May 2020
Deposited On:16 Feb 2021 15:33
Last Modified:17 Feb 2021 21:02
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233104

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