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Assessment of spatial functionality of old forest in Sweden as habitat for virtual species

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Old forest stands comprise a very small proportion of the managed forested landscapes of Scandinavia today compared with the preindustrial era. Therefore, it is important to develop conservation measures for old forest remnants and temporarily available old stands in managed forests in the most optimal way. This study examines the spatial functionality of old spruce-dominated forest in several regions of Sweden through the perspective of organisms with different ecologies, in terms of their area requirements and mobility. Instead of real species, virtual species were used representing a gradient of these two ecological traits. The main tool was habitat suitability modelling. Countrywide estimates of forest variables derived from the satellite data and field data from the National Forest Inventory using the k -nearest neighbour method were used as sources of habitat distribution data. There was large regional variation in old spruce forest functionality depending on natural conditions and forest history. The relationship between functionality and amount was largely curvilinear. Areas with?>?10% of old spruce forest generally had high levels of spatial functionality, whereas high variation in functionality was observed in areas with little old spruce forest cover. This method for multiple-scale assessment of old forest functionality, using virtual species, may be helpful in regional forest biodiversity planning.

Keywords: Forest biodiversity; forest planning; landscape indices; regional scale

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Department of Conservation Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Riddarhyttan, Sweden 2: Department of Animal Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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