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Trends in diversity and abundance of obligate epiphytic bryophytes in a highly managed landscape

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Although forest stands represent 47% of the total land area in Europe, alterations to the forest habitat through logging and plantation of exotic trees has led to significant changes in forest biocenoses. Due to their peculiar biology and life history, epiphytic bryophytes, which include a number of species of high conservation value, are especially concerned. Ordinal logit regression was used to test whether trends in diversity and abundance of obligate epiphytic bryophytes are explained by forest cover and spruce plantation and determine specific optima and degree of reliance to these factors at the landscape scale. Spruce plantations had a negative impact on both species diversity and abundance. Although large forest patches were important for a set of species exclusively or more frequently occurring under the forest cover, the abundance of a number of species previously identified as woodland bryophytes decreased or was uncorrelated with increasing forest cover. Furthermore, the species pool adapted to edge-related abiotic conditions was important. The global epiphytic diversity did consequently not decrease with decreasing forest cover at the landscape scale. If large forest patches are important for the conservation of a set of species exclusively or more frequently occurring under the forest cover, the conservation of epiphytic bryophytes thus also involves the conservation of pioneer trees in open landscapes. A series of management measures, which may help maximize the species diversity and probability of occurrence of key-species of high conservation interest, are proposed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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