Natural Disturbances are Essential Determinants of Tree-Related Microhabitat Availability in Temperate Forests - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Ecosystems Year : 2023

Natural Disturbances are Essential Determinants of Tree-Related Microhabitat Availability in Temperate Forests

Yoan Paillet

Abstract

Assessing the impacts of natural disturbance on the functioning of complex forest systems are imperative in the context of global change. The unprecedented rate of contemporary species extirpations, coupled with widely held expectations that future disturbance intensity will increase with warming, highlights a need to better understand how natural processes structure habitat availability in forest ecosystems. Standardised typologies of tree-related microhabitats (TreMs) have been developed to facilitate assessments of resource availability for multiple taxa. However, natural disturbance effects on TreM diversity have never been assessed. We amassed a comprehensive dataset of TreM occurrences and a concomitant 300-year disturbance history reconstruction that spanned large environmental gradients in temperate primary forests. We used nonlinear analyses to quantify relations between past disturbance parameters and contemporary patterns of TreM occurrence. Our results reveal that natural forest dynamics, characterised by fluctuating disturbance intervals and variable severity levels, maintained structurally complex landscapes rich in TreMs. Different microhabitat types developed over time in response to divergent disturbance histories. The relative abundance of alternate TreMs was maximised by unique interactions between past disturbance severity and elapsed time. Despite an unequal distribution of individual TreMs, total microhabitat diversity was maintained at constant levels, suggesting that spatially heterogeneous disturbances maintained a shifting mosaic of habitat types over the region as a whole. Our findings underscore the fundamental role of natural processes in promoting conditions that maximise biodiversity potential. Strict conservation and management systems that preserve natural disturbance outcomes, including associated biological legacies, may therefore safeguard biodiversity at large scales.
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hal-04064916 , version 1 (11-04-2023)

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Veronika Zemlerová, Daniel Kozák, Martin Mikoláš, Marek Svitok, Radek Bače, et al.. Natural Disturbances are Essential Determinants of Tree-Related Microhabitat Availability in Temperate Forests. Ecosystems, 2023, ⟨10.1007/s10021-023-00830-8⟩. ⟨hal-04064916⟩
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