Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 1129-1142

First online:

Forest Management and Plant Species Diversity in Chestnut Stands of Three Mediterranean Areas

  • Hélène GondardAffiliated withCEFE (UMR 5175) Email author 
  • , François RomaneAffiliated withCEFE (UMR 5175)
  • , Ignacio Santa ReginaAffiliated withInstituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiologia de Salamanca
  • , Salvatore LeonardiAffiliated withDipartimento di Metodologie Fisiche e Chimiche per l’Ingegneria, Facoltà di Ingegneria, Università di Catania

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Over many centuries, chestnut fruits had an important role as food, while chestnut wood was used for local purposes. Today sweet chestnut stands are very common around the western Mediterranean Basin, and it is necessary to analyze the dynamic of plant species diversity in different chestnut stand types (groves and coppices) to guide management strategies that will allow the conservation of biodiversity. Our objective was to analyze consequences on plant species diversity of various management strategies in chestnut stands of three Mediterranean areas, Salamanca (Spain), the Cévennes (France), and Etna volcano (Italy). We found that plant species diversity is different according to management types; it is higher in groves than in coppice stands. We also demonstrated that Castanea sativa cultivated groves were characterized by small heliophillous therophytes. C. sativa abandoned groves, mixed C. sativa–Quercus pyrenaica coppice stands, Q. pyrenaica coppice stands, and young C. sativa coppice stands were characterized by hemicryptophytes with anemochorous dispersal mode and chamaephytes. Medium and old C. sativa coppice stands (that differ by the shoot age) were characterized by phanerophytes with zoochorous dispersal mode. Human perturbations maintain a quite high level of species diversity. In contrast, the abandonment of chestnut stands leads to homogeneous vegetation with decreasing diversity. One solution could be to maintain a landscape mosaic constituted of diverse chestnut stands modified by human activities (groves, cultivated or abandoned, and coppice stands). This could enhance regional plant diversity.


Castanea sativa Coppice stand Diversity index Functional trait Grove