Plantations of exotic tree species in Britain: irrelevant for biodiversity or novel habitat for native species? View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2009-12-25

AUTHORS

Christopher P. Quine, Jonathan W. Humphrey

ABSTRACT

Novel or emergent ecosystems arising from human action present both threats and opportunities for biodiversity. It has been suggested that exotic species can “facilitate” or “inhibit” native biodiversity through habitat modification. In Britain, there is a discussion over the contribution to biodiversity of plantations of exotic conifer species as these are commonly thought to have little relevancy as a habitat for native biodiversity. To address this we compared the species richness of a range of different taxonomic groups (lichens, bryophytes, fungi, vascular plants, invertebrates and songbirds) in exotic and native forest stands of differing structural stages in northern and southern Britain. In terms of overall native species-richness there was no significant difference between the exotic and the native stands. In the north, six species groups showed higher values in the exotic Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) stands with the remaining six showing higher values in the native Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) stands. Most notably, lichen species richness was much lower in the exotic stands compared to the native stands, whereas bryophyte and fungal species richness was proportionately higher in the exotic stands. In the south, five species groups (all invertebrate taxa) showed higher species richness in exotic Norway spruce (Picea abies) stands compared to native oak (Quercus robur) stands. Five species groups had higher species-richness in the oak stands, in particular lichens and fungi. It is concluded that emergent ecosystems of exotic conifer species are not irrelevant to biodiversity. Where already well-established they can provide habitat for native species particularly if native woodland is scarce and biodiversity restoration is an immediate priority. More... »

PAGES

1503-1512

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/s10531-009-9771-7

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-009-9771-7

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1022680875


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