Habitat loss is a potential long-term effect of projected climate change for Mediterranean forest ecosystems. Here, we investigated the effectiveness of a close-to-nature silvicultural practice to conserve an old-growth white oak forest patch in Sicily (Italy) and promote regeneration dynamics. The study area, although small, is distinctive for its isolation, position and environmental characteristics. We conducted a Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) study to analyse the responses of different taxonomic groups (vascular plants and birds) to silvicultural treatments (selection thinning, no thinning), and to determine whether close-to-nature silviculture practices may cause significant shifts in the investigated communities. Specifically, we assessed the responses of (1) vascular plants by means of species diversity and taxonomic distinctness indices and (2) birds in terms of diversity, abundance and forest specialisation. Preliminary results suggest that cautious close-to-nature silviculture practice could-by mimicking natural gap dynamics-contribute to maintaining old-growth forest patches and promote oak seedling emergence without short-term detrimental impacts on biodiversity. Although the monitoring has to be repeated over the long-term, the multi-taxon approach and indices incorporating information on taxonomic relationships into diversity measures were demonstrated to be valuable tools for interpreting biotic community structure and dynamics.

Close-to-Nature Silviculture to Maintain a Relict Population of White Oak on Etna Volcano (Sicily, Italy): Preliminary Results of a Peculiar Case Study

Spampinato, Giovanni
2023-01-01

Abstract

Habitat loss is a potential long-term effect of projected climate change for Mediterranean forest ecosystems. Here, we investigated the effectiveness of a close-to-nature silvicultural practice to conserve an old-growth white oak forest patch in Sicily (Italy) and promote regeneration dynamics. The study area, although small, is distinctive for its isolation, position and environmental characteristics. We conducted a Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) study to analyse the responses of different taxonomic groups (vascular plants and birds) to silvicultural treatments (selection thinning, no thinning), and to determine whether close-to-nature silviculture practices may cause significant shifts in the investigated communities. Specifically, we assessed the responses of (1) vascular plants by means of species diversity and taxonomic distinctness indices and (2) birds in terms of diversity, abundance and forest specialisation. Preliminary results suggest that cautious close-to-nature silviculture practice could-by mimicking natural gap dynamics-contribute to maintaining old-growth forest patches and promote oak seedling emergence without short-term detrimental impacts on biodiversity. Although the monitoring has to be repeated over the long-term, the multi-taxon approach and indices incorporating information on taxonomic relationships into diversity measures were demonstrated to be valuable tools for interpreting biotic community structure and dynamics.
2023
BACI study
Calabrian black pine forests
birds
old-growth forest
species diversity indices
taxonomic distinctness
vascular plants
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/142506
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