Together with an international team, an ecologist of the University of Jena (Germany) presents a detailed analysis of biodiversity for temperate forests in Europe
Climate change, environmental pollution or land use changes – there are numerous influences threatening biodiversity in forests around the globe. The resulting decrease in biodiversity is a matter of common knowledge today – amongst scientists as well as amongst the general public.
But this is a simplified view, says Dr. Markus Bernhardt-Römermann of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). “At least a trend like this doesn't apply to all forests on the local scale.“ This is the result of a new study by the Jena ecologist and co-authors which is published today (27th July) in the scientific journal 'Global Change Biology' (DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12993).
Biodiversity in the herb layer has not changed in recent decades
Together with an international team of scientists from all over Europe, Bernhardt-Römermann comprehensively analysed the biodiversity in forests of the temperate zone of Europe. They found out that – on average – the biodiversity in the herb layer has not changed in recent decades.
This initially surprising result however doesn't mean that all is well in terms of biodiversity, as the ecologist points out: “The changes can be really grave on the local level.” In some areas, biodiversity has clearly been on the decrease, while at the same time it has been increasing in others.
Bernhardt-Römermann and his colleagues analysed data derived from the research platform “forestREplot“, which was established by scientists from Belgium, the Czech Republic and the USA together with the Jena ecologist Bernhardt-Römermann.
In a database, data characterizing the temporal development of plant species composition in forests of the temperate climate zone around the world is collected. “When data on the vegetation is collected on the same plot at several time steps, temporal changes can be identified,” Bernhardt-Römermann says.
For the new study the ecologists combined data from 13 European countries – from Switzerland and Hungary in the South to Sweden in the North and from Ireland in the West to Poland in the East – in one joint analysis. They analysed data form 39 selected deciduous forests at two different points in time (with a span of 17 to 75 years in between) and related them to changes in climate, forests management, nitrogen deposition and game population. The scientists were thus able to show the factors that are pivotal for the change of diversity in a particular area.
“We noticed that all in all the climate changes don't trigger a major change in diversity,” Bernhardt-Römermann sums up the baffling result. Much more influential for the diversity in the herb layer – apart from local factors like lighting conditions which can vary depending on forestry use – are most of all the availability of nitrogen and the density of the local game population. Thus for instance, populations of species which prefer open, thermophilous forests on mostly nutrient-poor soils are declining – such as the mountain sedge (Carex montana) or the scentless feverfew (Tanacetum corymbosum). At the same time, the remote sedge (Carex remota), the narrow buckler fern (Dryopteris carthusiana) and the rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis) – which grow in shaded and moist conditions often associated with increased nutrient availability – thrive distinctively better.
As a consequence from their findings, the researchers recommend to base future predictions for the development of biodiversity not only on global criteria like climate changes or land use scenarios, as these do not sufficiently take into consideration important local conditions. The local influences like game population and nitrogen availability should much rather be taken into account as well to improve the quality of predictions.
Bernhardt-Römermann M, Baeten L, Craven D, De Frenne P, Hédl R, Lenoir J, Bert D, Brunet J, Chudomelová M, Decocq G, Dierschke H, Dirnböck T, Dörfler I, Heinken T, Hermy M, Hommel P, Jaroszewicz B, Keczyński A, Kelly DL, Kirby KJ, Kopecký M, Macek M, Máliš F, Mirtl M, Mitchell FJG, Naaf T, Newman M, Peterken G, Petřík P, Schmidt W, Standovár T, Tóth Z, Van Calster H, Verstraeten G, Vladovič J, Vild O, Wulf M, Verheyen K: Drivers of temporal changes in temperate forest plant diversity vary across spatial scales. Global Change Biology (2015). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12993
Dr. Markus Bernhardt-Römermann
Institute of Ecology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Dornburger Straße 159, 07743 Jena
Phone: +49 3641 / 949435
Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine