, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 779-791

Conceptual problems of Ecological Continuity and its bioindicators

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Very old, undisturbed forest stands may be important for biodiversity through their content of microhabitats or for the long periods available for colonisation, or for both. The term Ecological Continuity (EC) has been used to ascribe value to old forest stands. The relative importance of microhabitat and time for colonisation are usually not kept apart when EC is used as a conservation criterium. EC is broadly applied but poorly defined. Use of EC may lead to underestimation of the importance of forest dynamics and dispersal, and to overestimation of the importance of local land use history. If bioindicators of long-term habitat persistence are to be used, species with low dispersal capacity should be chosen. However, many lichens and other fungi, bryophytes and insects cited as indicators of EC, seem to have a patch-tracking lifestyle. They are 'colonists' according to life history strategy classification, and rather seem to indicate specific microhabitats. Terrestrial molluscs, some vascular forest plants, and those bryophytes and lichenized fungi classified as 'perennial stayers' in life history strategy classification, might be used to indicate long-term habitat persistence in forests, but more research is needed to evaluate such indicators.