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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1041–1055 | Cite as

Impact of four silvicultural systems on birds in the Belgian Ardenne: implications for biodiversity in plantation forests

  • Gaëtan du Bus de Warnaffe
  • Marc DeconchatEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Uneven-aged management of conifer plantations is proposed as a way to increase the value of these forests for the conservation of bird diversity. To test this assumption, we compared the impact of four common silvicultural systems on bird communities, defined by cutblock size (large in even-aged silvicultural systems/smaller in uneven-aged silvicultural systems) and tree species composition (spruce/beech) in the Belgian Ardenne where beech forests have been replaced by spruce plantations. The abundances of bird species were surveyed in young, medium-aged and mature stands in 3–5 forests per silvicultural system (66 plots in all). The effect of silvicultural systems on bird species richness, abundance and composition were analysed both at the plot and at the silvicultural system levels. In plots of a given age, beech stands were richer in species. The composition of bird species at the plot level was explained by stand age and tree composition, but weakly so by stand evenness. For the silvicultural systems, bird species richness was significantly higher in even-aged and in beech forests, and bird species composition depended on the silvicultural system. This study emphasises the importance of maintaining native beech stands for birds and suggests that uneven-aged management of conifer plantations does not provide a valuable improvement of bird diversity comparatively with even-aged systems.

Keywords

Silvicultural system Biodiversity Bird communities Silvicultural cycle Coniferous plantation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are most grateful to J.P. Jacob and his team for the bird sampling, to Ph. Lebreton for methodological and scientific advice, to the Ministry of the Walloon Region for their financial support for the project and finally, to all the field engineers and technicians (DNF) who allowed us to carry out this study. H. Thomas and J. Willm helped to improve the manuscript. We thank the reviewers of a first version of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR1201 Dynamiques forestières dans l’espace rural, INRACastanet-tolosanFrance
  2. 2.Unité des Eaux et ForêtsUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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