Diversity trends of forest floor biota in UK plantation forests: Nadia Barsoum, Kirsty Godsman and Anne Oxbrough assess the species and functional diversity of flora and fauna inhabiting the forest floor in Sitka spruce, Scots pine and oak plantation forests

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Abstract

From small single-celled micro-organisms inhabiting forest floors to large, long-lived trees, all biota collectively inter-act and contribute to a multitude of key ecosystem functions. Typically, more than one species fulfils a specific functional role, with evolutionary processes ensuring that there is variation in the characteristics, or ‘traits’, among species. This provides a level of insurance against the threat of extinction within taxonomic groups and, ultimately, ensures continuity in the potential of taxa to fulfil specific functional roles. The lower variety of functionally distinct traits within a taxonomic group the lower the ‘functional diversity’ which could have implications for ecosystem functioning. Thus, the more species rich a forest is, which includes a diversity of species and taxonomic groups fulfilling multiple functional roles, the healthier an ecosystem is considered to be, and crucially, more resilient to environmental change. This article describes some of the interesting findings of a recently completed four-year PhD project that explored both species and functional diversity responses of multiple taxonomic groups of the forest floor in Scots Pine, Sitka spruce and oak plantations. Understanding how to support diversity in these systems is fundamental to improving their functioning and resilience. This project was a collaboration between researchers at Edge Hill University (Dr Anne Oxbrough, Dr Kirsty Godsman) and Dr Nadia Barsoum (Forest Research). It was jointly funded by Edge Hill University and the Scottish Forestry Trust.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Forestry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Forests

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