, Volume 133, Issue 1, pp 13-29
Date: 29 Oct 2013

Ecological consequences of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cultivation in Europe

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Abstract

Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) was first introduced to Europe from North America more than 150 years ago, was then planted on a large scale and is now the economically most important exotic tree species in European forests. This literature review summarizes the current knowledge on the effects of Douglas fir on soil chemistry, plants, arthropods and fungi. Douglas fir shapes its abiotic environment similarly to native tree species such as Norway spruce, silver fir or European beech. In general, many organisms have been shown to be able to live together with Douglas fir and in some cases even benefit from its presence. Although the number of species of the ground vegetation and that of arthropod communities is similar to those of native conifer species, fungal diversity is reduced by Douglas fir. Special microclimatic conditions in the crown of Douglas fir can lead to reduced arthropod densities during winter with possible negative consequences for birds. The ecological impacts of Douglas fir are in general not as severe as those of other exotic tree species, e.g., Pinus spp. in South Africa and Ailanthus altissima, Prunus serotina and Robinia pseudoacacia in Europe. Nonetheless, Douglas fir can negatively impact single groups of organisms or species and is now regenerating itself naturally in Europe. Although Douglas fir has not been the subject of large-scale outbreaks of pests in Europe so far, the further introduction of exotic organisms associated with Douglas fir in its native range could be more problematic than the introduction of Douglas fir itself.

Communicated by C. Ammer.