Abstract. The fragmentation and deterioration of old‐growth forest habitat by modern forestry have become a major threat to species diversity in Fennoscandia. In order to develop a conservation strategy for the remaining diversity it is essential to identify the existing diversity and to develop appropriate conservation and monitoring programs. For these purposes indicators of conservation value for administrative prioritization are required. This study examines the predictability of plant and fungal species richness on two spatial scales on 46 isolated old‐growth forest islands (0.17 ‐ 12 ha) in a forest‐wetland mosaic. We explore (1) to what extent area, isolation and stand structure variables can explain the variation in species richness and (2) if richness patterns of individual species groups correlate. Isolation showed no relation to species richness. Area explained 50 ‐ 70% of the variation in total species richness and was positively related to the density of crustose lichens and Red‐list species in island interiors. Stand structure variables explained 28 ‐ 66% of the residual variation in total species richness after controlling for island size, and 15 ‐ 73% of the variation in density of species in island interiors. The highest predictability of species richness was found among substrate‐specific fungi and Red‐list species. Different stand structure variables were found to explain richness in the different species groups, and only among a few species groups species richness correlated. Thus, species richness of one single species group is unlikely to be a good indicator for total biodiversity. The results show that measurements of stand size and stand structure variables may be a strong complementary tool, and sometimes a substitute to extensive species inventories when one aims to estimate and monitor plant and fungal species diversity in old‐growth Picea abies forests.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2001
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