Can Repeated Fertilizer Applications to Young Norway Spruce Enhance Avian Diversity in Intensively Managed Forests?
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Repeated fertilization of forests to increase biomass production is an environmentally controversial proposal, the effects of which we assessed on breeding birds in stands of young Norway spruce (Picea abies), in an intensively managed forest area in southern Sweden. Our results show that fertilized stands had 38% more species and 21% more individuals than unfertilized stands. Compared with stands under traditional management, the further intensification of forestry by repeated applications of fertilizers thus seemed to enhance species richness and abundance of forest birds. We cannot conclude at this stage whether the response in the bird community was caused by changes in food resources or increased structural complexity in the forest canopy due to the skid roads used for the application of the fertilizers. Future studies should focus on structural and compositional effects of fertilization processes during the entire rotation period and at assessing its effects in a landscape context.
KeywordsIntensive forestry Fertilization Birds Biodiversity Norway spruce
We gratefully acknowledge the Swedish Energy Agency for funding this study. Thanks to Johan Frisk, Södra, for help in planning the fieldwork, Matts Lindbladh and three anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments on the manuscript.
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