, Volume 70, Issue 8, pp 845-861
Date: 06 Sep 2013

Regeneration strategies influence ground bryophyte composition and diversity after forest clearcutting

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Natural regeneration with broadleaved species and reforestation with coniferous trees are two widely practiced forest regeneration strategies after timber harvesting. They lead to different tree species composition and may cause different understory biodiversity, but the effects on ground bryophyte composition and diversity are not well-known.


We tested whether natural regeneration with broadleaved species and reforestation with spruce induced different diversities of the ground bryophyte populations 20–40 years after old-growth spruce forest clearcutting in the subalpine regions of southwestern China.


Differences between natural stands and plantations were compared through the analysis of 13 paired stands, with 78 plots, 390 shrub/herb quadrats, and a total of 1,560 bryophyte quadrats.


Naturally regenerated forests were characterized by lower density and cover and lower tree height but higher herbaceous plant height, shrub cover, and bryophyte diversity. They also harbored many more ground bryophytes. The species richness of pleurocarpous mosses and fans, mats, and turfs were significantly higher in naturally regenerated forests. Frequency difference analysis demonstrated that more bryophyte species preferred ground habitats in naturally regenerated forests than in plantations (116 vs. 48 species). The canonical correspondence analysis indicated that stand structure attributes were more important determinants of ground bryophyte diversity and abundance.


Natural regeneration and reforestation resulted in large differences in ground bryophyte populations. A larger diversity was observed in the former case, and natural regeneration practices can be an effective measure for the protection of ground bryophyte diversity after clearcutting.