Patterns of change in the species composition of vascular plants during different succession stages and management intensity of a lowland floodplain forest

Abstract

To understand how different management interventions influence the forest structure and biodiversity, various components of vascular plant communities were studied and compared in differently managed forest stands and clearings. The number of species, the percentage of the overall cover of alien species, different Raunkier’s life forms’, CRS strategists, the amount of litter and canopy openness were monitored and used for assessment of forest stands condition. We discovered that the species richness and composition of intensively managed forests significantly differ from those with extensive management. Intensive management interventions in commercial plantations, such as mechanical site preparation and the application of herbicides significantly contribute to the decrease of diversity and the spread of alien and ruderal plant species at the expense of native species. On the other hand, when new stands are founded and cared for sensitively, common types of floodplain forests show good regeneration abilities and their species diversity is preserved or quickly renewed. Thus, extensive floodplain forest management results in higher biodiversity and better conditions for the fulfillment of both wood-producing and non-wood-producing functions as well as for sustainable management. We further propose that mechanical site preparation with soil milling and application of herbicides may have a very strong negative impact on the overall biodiversity in forest plantations.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Židlochovice Enterprise, a division of Czech National Forests, Inc., for access to the forest stands around the villages of Vranovice, Ivaň and Pouzdřany, and for their cooperation within the implementation of this research. We are indebted to the following people who assisted in various aspects of this work: Šárka Mašová, Radek Michalko, Radomír Řepka, Kamila Surovcová and Luboš Purchart. We would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript. The study was financially supported by the Specific University Research Fund of the FFWT Mendel University in Brno (Reg. numbers: LDF_VT_2016002/2016 and LDF_PSV_2017004/2017).

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Correspondence to Ondřej Košulič.

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Košulič, O., Hamřík, T. & Lvončík, S. Patterns of change in the species composition of vascular plants during different succession stages and management intensity of a lowland floodplain forest. Biologia (2020). https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-020-00536-5

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Forest clearings
  • Forest management
  • Mechanical soil preparation
  • Species composition
  • Vegetation