Biodiversity functions of short rotation coppice stands - results of a meta study on ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)
The functions of short rotation coppices (SRC) with regard to biodiversity are often thought to be limited because of the monoculture and even-aged plantation character, highly mechanized harvesting methods and short rotation cycles. Of the many studies conducted there are varying results, though most concluded that only very young SRC in the establishment phase are of particular value for species protection. For a better evaluation of biodiversity functions of SRC with the potential to be generalized, we conducted a meta study combining existing data from 14 projects with a total of 73 plots from SRC in Central Europe (Germany and Czechia), using ground beetles (Carabidae). Ground beetles are a speciose and well-studied family, with a long tradition as indicators of several aspects of biodiversity because of their diverse habitat requirements and species traits. Results show that SRC not only provide benefits for biodiversity by providing endangered pioneer species an ephemeral pioneer habitat (particularly during the establishment phase of the SRC), but also at the fringes. A second function is that of providing strict forest species of limited dispersal ability with habitat corridors, which is the case particularly in older, long-existing SRC. Age of the plantation is much more important in this regard than the length of the rotation intervals. In the future, multifunctional landscapes which aim to maintain open fields and cultivate forest biodiversity would benefit from a stronger consideration of SRC.
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