We compared differences in plant species diversity between conifer (Pinus tabulaeformis) plantations and natural secondary forests in the middle of the Loess plateau. The goal of the study was to examine the differences in the effect of stand development on species diversity and in species responses to changes between forest types and between forest layers. To clarify the effects of differences in forest management, we emphasized the functional types of plant species occurring in each forest type. The result as follow: (1) The H′ and S of tree layer were significantly lower in natural conifer forest than old conifer and secondary forest, but were not different compared with mid aged conifer forest. The H′ and S of shrub layer were significantly lower in mid aged conifer forest compared with other forest types. The H′ of herb layer showed no significant differences in the four forest types. The evenness index (J′) of tree layer of mid aged conifer forest was lower than other forest communities and its J′ of shrub layer was highest although its richness of shrub layer was lower than in the other forest types. (2) The analysis of β diversity index also indicated large differences between conifer plantations and natural forests. Although the tree layer species were similar in old plantation and natural conifer forests, they differed greatly between the natural conifer and secondary forests. The natural conifer and secondary forest species composition in shrub layer differed significantly from those in plantation and secondary plots. Tree species were significantly less common in plantations than in abandoned coppice forests. Species composition in the herb layer of different forest types was similar. (3) The management of P. tabulaeformis plantations alters plant species composition considerably; the number of sub tall-tree species is increased in old aged conifer forest, especially species dispersed by animals. Plantation management appears to affect ecological processes through seed dispersal. From the perspective of management, the change in the structure and composition of the canopy in plantations could affect the behavior of dispersers and regeneration.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 15, 2009
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