Tree microhabitats at the stand scale in montane beech–fir forests: practical information for taxa conservation in forestry
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- Larrieu, L., Cabanettes, A., Brin, A. et al. Eur J Forest Res (2014) 133: 355. doi:10.1007/s10342-013-0767-1
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Recent studies have highlighted the key role of tree microhabitats in forest habitat complexity and have suggested using them as surrogates for local taxonomic biodiversity. However, few practical guidelines have been published to help foresters in managing microhabitats at the stand scale. This paper provides scientific background information to help to develop such guidelines. We surveyed trees in nine long-unmanaged beech–fir forests to model tree microhabitat occurrence and diversity at the tree level. Data were upscaled to a size range of tree cluster, i.e., at the tree population scale, by aggregating observed values of microhabitat occurrence. Accumulation curves were used to estimate the minimum number of trees required to make all the microhabitat types available. Two managed forests were then studied to quantify management effects on microhabitats. Diameter at breast height (dbh) and tree species, respectively, explained 16 and 10 % of the variations in the number of microhabitat-bearing trees, and 21 and 10 % for the number of microhabitat types. Beech trees and firs with a dbh of less than dbh 50 and 65 cm, respectively, did not ensure the provision of all microhabitat types. At least 20 ha of unmanaged forest were necessary to conserve all the microhabitat types. Current management practices have reduced the number of microhabitat-bearing beeches both by reducing the number of very large trees (dbh > 67.5 cm) and by tree selection within mid-size diameters. For fir, only the logging of very large trees (dbh > 62.5 cm) negatively affected microhabitats. These figures may inspire guidelines for conservation-friendly forestry.