Shrub richness is primarily driven by climate conditions in Southwestern European woodlands

Key message

The shrub species richness in Spanish forests is mainly linked to climatic variables and the importance of the groups of variables scarcely differs among forest types. Forest surrounding the Mediterranean Basin exhibit the highest levels of shrub richness.

Abstract

Context Shrub species account for a high proportion of the plant diversity in Spanish forests and are a determinant factor in forest dynamics and ecosystem functionality.
Aims To investigate the relative importance of climatic, forest stand features, soil and topographic variables in explaining shrub richness in Spanish forests and if the relative importance of these four groups of variables reflects variations among forest types.
Methods We used the Spanish National Forest Inventory and a boosted regression trees approach to identify which climatic, soil, stand and topographic variables (N = 19 variables) are related to the richness of shrub species in Spanish woodlands.
Results The shrub species richness is mainly related to climatic variables followed by soil variables whereas stand and topographic variables play a minor role. The importance of the groups of variables scarcely differs among forest types although forests located around the Mediterranean Sea display the highest levels of shrub richness.
Conclusion Shrub richness in Spain is primarily driven by climatic and soil variables, both at country and forest-type scales. Forests surrounding the Mediterranean Basin account for the highest richness of shrub species but are also those most threatened by global change. Therefore, special attention must be paid to the monitoring and assessment of these forest ecosystems.

Keywords
Adaptive management; Habitat indicators; Sustainability; Plant diversity

Publication
Moreno-Fernández, D., Cañellas, I. & Alberdi, I. Shrub richness is primarily driven by climate conditions in Southwestern European woodlands. Annals of Forest Science 78, 98 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-021-01117-5

For the read-only version of the full text:
https://rdcu.be/cCMz0

Data and/or Code availability
The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Spanish National Forest Inventory repository, https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/servicios/banco-datos-naturaleza/informacion-disponible/ifn3_base_datos_1_25.aspx
and https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/servicios/banco-datos-naturaleza/informacion-disponible/ifn3_base_datos_26_50.aspx

Handling Editor
Laurent Bergès

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