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Species, live status, and diameter are important tree features for diversity and abundance of tree microhabitats in subnatural montane beech–fir forests

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Because quantitative data on the distribution of whole microhabitat sets are still lacking to indirectly assess taxonomic biodiversity in forests, we studied the distribution of seven key microhabitat types in 10 montane European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) – silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) forests (Pyrénées, France) that had not been harvested for several decades. We examined 2105 live trees and 526 snags. Frequencies of cavities and dendrothelms were significantly higher on live beech than on fir. Sap runs were strictly found on live fir. Frequencies of cracks and saproxylic fungi were significantly higher on snags than on live trees. Seventy percent of live beeches but only 18% of firs carried one or more microhabitats. For both beech and fir and for each microhabitat type, we found, using the recursive partitioning method, one to three diameter thresholds that each corresponded to a significant change in the probability of microhabitat presence. When considering the whole microhabitat set, the most significant diameter thresholds were 42, 60, 73, and 89 cm for beech and 99 cm for fir. We suggest that forest managers conserve (i) mixed stands and (ii) beech with a diameter at breast height >90 cm and fir >100 cm. These rules should be adapted for each forest ecosystem.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: INRA, INPT/ENSAT/EIPURPAN, UMR 1201 Dynafor, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France.

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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