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Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
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Volume 18, issue 2 | Copyright
Web Ecol., 18, 143-151, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-18-143-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Short communication 02 Oct 2018

Short communication | 02 Oct 2018

The older the richer: significant increase in breeding bird diversity along an age gradient of different coppiced woods

Lorenzo Mentil1, Corrado Battisti2, and Giuseppe Maria Carpaneto1 Lorenzo Mentil et al.
  • 1Roma Tre University, Department of Science, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Rome, Italy
  • 2“Torre Flavia” LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) Station, Environmental Service, Città metropolitana di Roma, via Tiburtina 691, 00159 Rome, Italy

Abstract. Forest structural complexity could be a good predictor of overall species diversity. Since tree harvesting has a negative effect on forest structure, it is important to analyse the effects of this disturbance on sensitive groups, as forest birds. In this study, we aimed to shed light on this aspect by analysing a set of univariate metrics in bird communities breeding in three coppiced forest habitats (coppiced of chestnut, coppiced of Turkey oak and high forest of beech) along a gradient in age classes. We hypothesised that, with increasing forest age, (i) breeding bird communities will progressively increase in diversity and, (ii) due to higher habitat heterogeneity due to coppicing, a higher species turnover in the first age classes could appear. In each forest habitat, all the metrics significantly increased, from recently coppiced to more mature forests, due to progressively higher availability of resources and niches along the gradient. When comparing paired forest habitats, abundance and richness were significantly different only in the two oldest age classes, highlighting that responses to different tree composition were more marked in the mature phase. In all forest habitats, species turnover (βw diversity) decreased progressively along the age gradient and was highest in the youngest age classes where many vegetation layers were present. Due to different coppice management practices, growth regime and consequent habitat heterogeneity, chestnuts showed a different pattern when compared to other forest habitats, with an increase in species turnover (βw diversity) at intermediate level. With increasing age of the forests, all the diversity metrics increased and species turnover decreased, highlighting the role of older forests as strategic habitats for highly structured bird communities.

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In this study, we studied the effect of forest coppicing on birds inhabiting three different Mediterranean forest habitats. We observed a significant increase in diversity along the age gradient with implications for forest management.
In this study, we studied the effect of forest coppicing on birds inhabiting three different...
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