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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Willow Short-Rotation Coppice as Model System for Exploring Ecological Theory on Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function

Weih, Martin; Glynn, Carolyn; Baum, Christel


Plantations of willow (Salix spp.) are today grown as short-rotation coppice (SRC) for the sustainable production of biomass. While developing these production systems in the past, much ecological knowledge on plant-plant, plant-environment and trophic interactions has been generated. This knowledge can contribute to the further development of biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) theory, which frequently lacks a sound understanding of the complex mechanisms behind the observed patterns of diversity-productivity relationships. Thus, willow SRC systems are suitable models to explore BEF theory; they are simple enough to allow the study of the complex ecological mechanisms involved and they have many similarities to grassland systems in which much of recent BEF theory development has been achieved. This paper briefly reviews the current observational and mechanistic knowledge on diversity-productivity relationships in willow SRC, as well as the most important above- and below-ground trophic interactions that are likely to affect them. If the available knowledge is integrated and combined with further experimental work targeting mechanisms behind patterns, research on willow SRC as a model offers a great opportunity for filling the gaps in the understanding what presently hampers the development of predictive BEF theory.


biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF); diversity-productivity relationships; herbivory; mycorrhiza; trophic interactions; Salix; short-rotation forestry

Published in

2019, volume: 11, number: 8, article number: 125

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Baum, Christel
University of Rostock

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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