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A quel régime de perturbations les espèces forestières sont-elles adaptées ? Importance de l'historique de gestion

Abstract : The role of disturbances in forest ecosystems functioning is recognised by most ecologists, but some divergence persist when they want to specify which disturbances regime the species are best adapted to. From an evolutionary point of view, the species least tolerant to anthropogenic disturbances have probably already disappeared and those that best tolerate them now dominate in forest ecosystems. This gives the following three assumptions that are discussed: (H1) "It is likely that a human-related disturbance regime has reduced the abundance of species that are typical of habitats that have become rare or absent at the landscape scale; these species will be positively favoured if management practices increase the amount of suitable habitats"; (H2) "species could have adapted to disturbance regimes related to past silvicultural treatments and any dramatic change in treatment regime would lead to a generalised mid- or long-term decrease"; (H3) "It may therefore be reasonable to provide species with a variety of disturbance regimes (thanks to various silvicultural treatments) because the disturbance regime to which the species are adapted is unknown, especially in the context of the unpredictable impact of global change upon biodiversity". The first approach assumes that forest management has changed the disturbance regime in the North-American and Scandinavian primary forests and has negatively affected the species that strictly depend on late-successional phases, deadwood and old/senescent trees (Hansen et al. 1991, Angelstam 1998, Niemelä 1999). However, the direct adaptation of this concept to the mid-European ecosystems is debatable, because the natural disturbance regime have been being modified for a long time: these forests have been being managed for centuries, often very intensively (Bengtsson et al. 2000). Consequently, it could be too late to worry about the impact of forest management on biodiversity (according to H1), and it could more appropriate to rely on H2. This assumption is defended by some ecologists who consider that the traditional coppice regime is a disturbance system that allowed to preserve the flora and the fauna of ancient forests, as coppice-with-standard has been applied over centuries (Rackham 1980). Recent work on flora support this assumption (Decocq et al. 2004): thus, the problem is not any more to compare the effect of a disturbance regime created by management with a regime of natural disturbances, but to analyse the change in the disturbance regime due to the change in the forestry practices. H3 can be considered as the synthesis of H1 and H2 assumptions: H3 is more general and would help to face the future changes, such as climate change. Several projects carried out by our research team and dealing with the response of different taxonomic groups to forest management practices (flora, ground-beetle and butterfly) allow: (1) to select the most likely assumption for preserving forest biodiversity; (2) to underline the limits of the conclusions based on a single taxonomic group and (3) to understand why the comparison of the long-term effect of different silvicultures on biodiversity is not easy to test.
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Contributor : Migration Irstea Publications <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 12:35:37 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 15, 2021 - 10:02:06 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02588227, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00020214



Laurent Bergès, P. Bonneil, Christophe Bouget, R. Chevalier, Frédéric Gosselin, et al.. A quel régime de perturbations les espèces forestières sont-elles adaptées ? Importance de l'historique de gestion. Le réveil du Dodo II, Paris, 7-9 Mars 2006, 2006, pp.10. ⟨hal-02588227⟩



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