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Competition for soil resources forces a trade-off between enhancing tree productivity and understorey species richness in managed beech forests

Hrivnák, R., Bošeľa, M., Slezák, M., Lukac, M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8535-6334, Svitková, I., Gizela, J., Hegedüšová, K., Hrivnák, M., Kliment, J., Knopp, V., Senko, D., Ujházyová, M., Valachovič, M., Wiezik, M. and Máliš, F. (2022) Competition for soil resources forces a trade-off between enhancing tree productivity and understorey species richness in managed beech forests. Science of the Total Environment, 849. 157825. ISSN 1879-1026

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157825

Abstract/Summary

Traditionally focussed on maximising productivity, forest management increasingly has to consider other functions performed by the forest stands, such as biodiversity conservation. Terrestrial plant communities typically possess a hump-back relationship between biomass productivity and plant species richness. However, there is evidence of a reverse relationship in forests dominated by beech, one of the most competitive and widespread tree species in temperate Europe. To fully explore the tree productivity-species richness relationship, we investigated above- and below-ground drivers of understorey plant species richness. We focussed on managed beech forests growing along an elevation gradient in Central Europe. We found that the lowest understorey plant diversity was under conditions optimal for beech. Tree fine root mass, canopy openness, soil C/N ratio, the interaction between tree fine root mass and stoniness, and stand structural diversity explain the variation of understorey species richness. We show that the competition for soil resources is the main driver of plant species diversity in managed forests; maximising beech growth in optimal conditions may thus come at the expense of understorey plant richness.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:107046
Publisher:Elsevier

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