Publication details

Fine-resolution patterns of plant species richness across European forests

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Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description Describing and understanding species richness patterns and their drivers across large regions has been one of the traditional goals of ecology and biogeography. Richness of vascular plant species has been explored in numerous studies performed all around the world. However, there is still a lack of studies examining species richness across broad spatial scales on fine-resolution, spatially referenced data, because such data are poorly available. Therefore, up to now, most studies have used coarse resolution (i.e. spatially highly generalized) data based on atlases or inventories of large areas, which considerably limits our understanding of species richness patterns and underlying factors. Here we attempt to create predictive maps of local vascular plant species richness in forest vegetation across a major part of Europe and to examine the underlying factors. Our study is based on a large data set of vegetation plots from different European countries and regions, which have been recently integrated in the European Vegetation Archive. This type of data allows to analyse species richness even at the level of single forest types (e.g. coniferous or broadleaf deciduous) and according to dominance of selected tree species (e.g. oak forests). In total, we used 98,363 vegetation plots of all forest communities in the area from the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Black Sea coast in the east and from southern Scandinavia in the north to Sicily in the south. However, only 25 to 55% of plots appear to be suitable for analyses, depending on the selection criteria applied. Our preliminary results suggest that if all forest communities are considered together, the richest forests occur in the mountainous regions with high proportion of calcareous bedrock, e.g. in the Southern Limestone Alps. On the other hand species poor forests predominate in north western Europe, e.g. on the British Isles and in the Netherlands.
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