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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Does forest continuity matter in conservation? A study of epiphytic lichens and bryophytes in beech forests of southern Sweden

Fritz, Oerjan; Gustafsson, Lena; Larsson, Krister


The effects of forest continuity at local scale for red-listed and indicator species of epiphytic lichens and bryophytes were investigated in 150 Fagus sylvatica stands in southern Sweden. Stands having forest continuity (n =106) had continuous forest cover more than 350 years, whereas stands lacking continuity (n = 44) had forest cover less than 160 years. Forest continuity was identified by comparing a sequence of historical maps with a modern survey of beech forests. In the field woody beech substrates were searched for the epiphytes of interest. A number of environmental and spatial variables were inventoried and compiled for each stand. In all 64 species (51 lichens, 13 bryophytes) were found in the stands having continuity, and 21 (14 lichens, 7 bryophytes) in the stands lacking continuity. Controlling for the different number of surveyed stands, stands having continuity had significantly more species of lichens, but not of bryophytes. In the stands lacking continuity we did not find lichens associated with the very late succession stage. The quantity of substrates, stand age and forest continuity were the three most important factors explaining species richness as well as composition of studied epiphytes. The effect of continuity was probably due to a combination of a higher substrate quality, mainly old beeches, and a longer time available for colonization. Also, we found strong positive correlations between number of indicator and red-listed epiphyte species. In short-term conservation old stands having continuity, containing suitable substrates and indicator species are target areas. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


habitat quality; red-listed epiphytes; fagus sylvatica; forest history; succession; woodland key habitats

Published in

Biological Conservation
2008, Volume: 141, number: 3, pages: 655-668

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      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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