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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The European Forest Plant Species List (EuForPlant): Concept and applications

Heinken, Thilo; Diekmann, Martin; Liira, Jaan; Orczewska, Anna; Schmidt, Marcus; Brunet, Joerg; Chytry, Milan; Chabrerie, Olivier; Decocq, Guillaume; De Frenne, Pieter; Drevojan, Pavel; Dzwonko, Zbigniew; Ewald, Joerg; Graae, Bente Jessen; Grytnes, John-Arvid; Hermy, Martin; Kriebitzsch, Wolf-Ulrich; Lenoir, Jonathan; Lindmo, Sigrid; Marage, Damien;
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Question When evaluating forests in terms of their biodiversity, distinctiveness and naturalness, the affinity of the constituent species to forests is a crucial parameter. Here we ask to what extent are vascular plant species associated with forests, and does species' affinity to forests vary between European regions? Location Temperate and boreal forest biome of Northwestern and Central Europe. Methods We compiled EuForPlant, a new extensive list of forest vascular plant species in 24 regions spread across 13 European countries using vegetation databases and expert knowledge. Species were region-specifically classified into four categories reflecting the degree of their affinity to forest habitats: 1.1, species of forest interiors; 1.2, species of forest edges and forest openings; 2.1, species that can be found in forest as well as open vegetation; and 2.2, species that can be found partly in forest, but mainly in open vegetation. An additional "O" category was distinguished, covering species typical for non-forest vegetation. Results EuForPlant comprises 1,726 species, including 1,437 herb-layer species, 159 shrubs, 107 trees, 19 lianas and 4 epiphytic parasites. Across regions, generalist forest species (with 450 and 777 species classified as 2.1 and 2.2, respectively) significantly outnumbered specialist forest species (with 250 and 137 species classified as 1.1 and 1.2, respectively). Even though the degree of shifting between the categories of forest affinity among regions was relatively low (on average, 17.5%), about one-third of the forest species (especially 1.2 and 2.2) swapped categories in at least one of the study regions. Conclusions The proposed list can be used widely in vegetation science and global change ecology related to forest biodiversity and community dynamics. Shifting of forest affinity among regions emphasizes the importance of a continental-scale forest plant species list with regional specificity.


biogeographical regions; boreal zone; expert knowledge; forest affinity; forest plant species; habitat shift; nemoral zone; species diversity; vascular flora; woodland

Published in

Journal of Vegetation Science
2022, volume: 33, number: 3, article number: e13132
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Heinken, Thilo
University of Potsdam
Diekmann, Martin
University of Bremen
Liira, Jaan
University of Tartu
Orczewska, Anna
University of Silesia in Katowice
Schmidt, Marcus
Northwest German Forest Research Institute
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Chytry, Milan
Masaryk University Brno
Chabrerie, Olivier
Universite de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)
Decocq, Guillaume
Universite de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)
De Frenne, Pieter
Ghent University
Drevojan, Pavel
Masaryk University Brno
Dzwonko, Zbigniew
Jagiellonian University
Ewald, Jörg
University of Applied Sciences, Freising
Feilberg, Jon
No organisation
Graae, Bente Jessen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Grytnes, John-Arvid
University of Bergen
Hermy, Martin
KU Leuven
Kriebitzsch, Wolf-Ulrich
Johann Heinrich Thilnen Inst vTI
Laivin, Maris
Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava
Lenoir, Jonathan
Universite de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)
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UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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