Alpha diversity of vascular plants in European forests

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

DOI

  • Martin Večeřa, Masaryk University
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  • Jan Divíšek, Masaryk University
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  • Jonathan Lenoir, UR ‘Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés’ (EDYSAN, Universite de Picardie Jules Verne
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  • Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Universidad de Oviedo
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  • Idoia Biurrun, University of the Basque Country
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  • Ilona Knollová, Masaryk University
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  • Emiliano Agrillo, Sapienza University of Rome
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  • Juan Antonio Campos, University of the Basque Country
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  • Andraž Čarni, Ivan Rakovec Institute of Palaeontology ZRC SAZU
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  • Guillermo Crespo Jiménez, University of Castilla-La Mancha
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  • Mirjana Ćuk, University of Novi Sad
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  • Panayotis Dimopoulos, University of Patras
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  • Jörg Ewald, Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences
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  • Federico Fernández-González, University of Castilla-La Mancha
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  • Jean Claude Gégout, Universite de Lorraine
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  • Adrian Indreica, Transilvania University of Brasov
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  • Ute Jandt, University Halle-Wittenberg, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
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  • Florian Jansen, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
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  • Zygmunt Kącki, University of Wroclaw
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  • Valerijus Rašomavičius, Institute of Botany Lithuanian
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  • Marcela Řezníčková, Masaryk University
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  • John S. Rodwell, Lancaster Centre
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  • Joop H.J. Schaminée, Wageningen University and Research Centre
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  • Urban Šilc, Ivan Rakovec Institute of Palaeontology ZRC SAZU
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  • Jens Christian Svenning
  • Grzegorz Swacha, University of Wroclaw
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  • Kiril Vassilev, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
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  • Roberto Venanzoni, University of Perugia
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  • Wolfgang Willner, University of Vienna, Vienna Institute for Nature Conservation and Analyses
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  • Thomas Wohlgemuth, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
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  • Milan Chytrý, Masaryk University

Aim: The former continental-scale studies modelled coarse-grained plant species-richness patterns (gamma diversity). Here we aim to refine this information for European forests by (a) modelling the number of vascular plant species that co-occur in local communities (alpha diversity) within spatial units of 400 m2; and (b) assessing the factors likely determining the observed spatial patterns in alpha diversity. Location: Europe roughly within 12°W–30°E and 35–60°N. Taxon: Vascular plants. Methods: The numbers of co-occurring vascular plant species were counted in 73,134 georeferenced vegetation plots. Each plot was classified by an expert system into deciduous broadleaf, coniferous or sclerophyllous forest. Random Forest models were used to map and explain spatial patterns in alpha diversity for each forest type separately using 19 environmental, land-use and historical variables. Results: Our models explained from 51.0% to 70.9% of the variation in forest alpha diversity. The modelled alpha-diversity pattern was dominated by a marked gradient from species-poor north-western to species-rich south-eastern Europe. The most prominent richness hotspots were identified in the Calcareous Alps and adjacent north-western Dinarides, the Carpathian foothills in Romania and the Western Carpathians in Slovakia. Energy-related factors, bedrock types and terrain ruggedness were identified as the main variables underlying the observed richness patterns. Alpha diversity increases especially with temperature seasonality in deciduous broadleaf forests, on limestone bedrock in coniferous forests and in areas with low annual actual evapotranspiration in sclerophyllous forests. Main conclusions: We provide the first predictive maps and analyses of environmental factors driving the alpha diversity of vascular plants across European forests. Such information is important for the general understanding of European biodiversity. This study also demonstrates a high potential of vegetation-plot databases as sources for robust estimation of the number of vascular plant species that co-occur at fine spatial grains across large areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Volume46
Issue9
Pages (from-to)1919-1935
Number of pages17
ISSN0305-0270
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • diversity, Europe, European Vegetation Archive (EVA), forest vegetation, plant community, predictive modelling, Random Forests, species-richness patterns, vascular plants, vegetation-plot database

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