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Forests 2016, 7(10), 241; doi:10.3390/f7100241

How Biotic Differentiation of Human Impacted Nutrient Poor Deciduous Forests Can Affect the Preservation Status of Mountain Forest Vegetation

1
Department of Botany, University of Rzeszów, Zelwerowicza 4, PL-35-601 Rzeszów, Poland
2
Department of Zoology, University of Rzeszów, ul. Zelwerowicza 4, PL-35-601 Rzeszów, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Phillip Comeau and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 18 August 2016 / Revised: 10 October 2016 / Accepted: 12 October 2016 / Published: 19 October 2016
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Abstract

A significant loss of biodiversity resulting from human activity has caused biotic homogenisation to become the dominant process shaping forest communities. In this paper, we present a rare case of biotic differentiation in European temperate deciduous forest herb layer vegetation. The process is occurring in nutrient poor oak-hornbeam forests in mountain areas (Polish Eastern Carpathians, Central Europe) where non-timber use was converted into conventional forest management practice. This change contributed to increases in the nitrogen content and pH reaction of the soil that, contrary to predominant beliefs on the negative impact of habitat eutrophication on diversity, did not result in a decrease in the latter. We discuss possible reasons for this phenomenon that indicate the important role of tree stand composition (an increasing admixture of beech worsening the trophic properties of the soil). The second issue considered involves the effect of the changes in herb species composition of oak-hornbeam forest on its distinctiveness from the beech forest predominating in the Polish Eastern Carpathians. Unfortunately, despite the increase in the species compositional dissimilarity of oak-hornbeam forest, a reduction in their distinctiveness in relation to the herb species composition of beech forest was found. Such a phenomenon is an effect of the major fragmentation of oak-hornbeam forests, a spread of beech forest-type species, and forest management that gives preference to beech trees. Consequently, it can be expected that changes occurring in oak-hornbeam forest vegetation will contribute to a decrease in the forest vegetation variability at the regional scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; biotic differentiation; beta diversity; herb layer; forest distinctiveness; change in land use; East Carpathians biodiversity conservation; biotic differentiation; beta diversity; herb layer; forest distinctiveness; change in land use; East Carpathians
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Durak, T.; Durak, R. How Biotic Differentiation of Human Impacted Nutrient Poor Deciduous Forests Can Affect the Preservation Status of Mountain Forest Vegetation. Forests 2016, 7, 241.

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