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Research article2009Peer reviewed

Retention patches as potential refugia for bryophytes and lichens in managed forest landscapes

Perhans, Karin; Appelgren, Leif; Jonsson, Fredrik; Nordin, Ulrika; Soderstrom, Bo; Gustafsson, Lena


Leaving small patches of forest intact at harvesting is now a standard procedure to mitigate negative effects on biodiversity. One purpose of the patches is to "life-boat" species over the forest regeneration phase, although the capacity of small forest fragments to do so is very uncertain. We investigated the survival of red-listed and indicator species of bryophytes and lichens in 74 retention patches in boreal Sweden. The patches were between 0.01 and 0.5 ha in size and of six different types with respect to tree species composition and location on the harvested area. Species presence and abundance were recorded shortly after harvest in transects covering the whole patches, and an identical inventory was carried out 6 years after the first. During this time, bryophytes generally decreased, most pronounced for liverworts. The largest decreases were found in buffer zones to streams and lakes and the smallest in tree groups dominated by deciduous trees. By contrast, among the lichens some species decreased while others increased, and there was no difference between retention patch types. Among the species abundant enough to be analyzed individually, the lichens Calicium parvum and Micarea globuloselia decreased less in larger patches and the bryophyte Hylocomiastrum umbratum decreased more in patches of irregular shape. The results imply that retention patches of this size might be too small to function as refugia for sensitive bryophytes and lichens until the surrounding forest regenerates, but that some lichens appear to persist or even increase. Retention harvesting is still a young management practice and further studies on its long-term conservation benefits will be valuable. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Biodiversity; Cryptogams; Green-tree retention; Forest management; Indicator species; Red-listed species; Variable retention harvesting

Published in

Biological Conservation
2009, Volume: 142, number: 5, pages: 1125-1133

      SLU Authors

      • Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG15 Life on land

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Forest Science

        Publication identifier


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