Patterns of functional diversity of two trophic groups after canopy thinning in an abandoned coppice
Coppice abandonment had negative consequences for the biodiversity of forest vegetation and several groups of invertebrates. Most coppicing restoration studies have focused only on a single trophic level despite the fact that ecosystems are characterized by interactions between trophic levels represented by various groups of organisms. To address the patterns of functional diversity in the perspective of coppicing restoration, we studied the short-term effects of conservation-motivated tree canopy thinning in an abandoned coppice with standards in Central Europe, a region where such attempts have been rare so far. The functional diversity of vascular plants and spiders, chosen as two model trophic groups within the forest ecosystem, was compared between thinned and control forest patches. To characterize functional patterns, we examined several functional traits. These traits were assigned to two contrasting categories: response traits reflecting a change of environment (for both vascular plants and spiders) and effect traits influencing the ecosystem properties (only for vascular plants). Functional diversity was analysed by CCA using two measures: community-weighted means (CWM) and Rao’s quadratic diversity (RaoQ). CCA models revealed that the canopy thinning had a positive effect on the diversity of the response traits of both trophic groups and negatively influenced the diversity of effect traits. In addition, we found distinct seasonal dynamics in functional diversity of the spider communities, which was probably linked to leaf phenology of deciduous trees. We conclude that canopy thinning affected functional diversity across trophic groups during the initial phase of coppicing restoration. With necessary precautions, careful canopy thinning can be effectively applied in the restoration of functional diversity in abandoned coppices.