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Special Issue "Relationship between Forest Biodiversity and Soil Functions"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Flora Angela Rutigliano

Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Italy
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +823-274640
Fax: +823-274605
Interests: soil ecology; soil microbial community; ecosystem functions; plant-soil interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests represent a large reservoir of flora, fauna, and microbiological diversity. Forest functioning and stability primarily depend on a multilevel interplay between the above-ground community and soil. Forest biodiversity has emerged in the last decades as a fundamental determinant of ecosystem functions and associated services. Forest biodiversity, however, is increasingly threatened by land-use, land-use change, climate change, and other stressors. Soil plays a key role in ecosystem functions, notably in biomass production, storing and cleaning of water, storing, filtering, and transformation of nutrients and other substances, acting as biodiversity pool, carbon sink, and, thus, as a climate driver.

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers reporting recent advances in research on relationships between soil functions and biodiversity in natural and seminatural forests, and in forest plantations. The issue aims to contribute to defining sustainable strategies of forest management that take care of soil resource and biodiversity conservation. Biotic and nonbiotic processes linked to soil functions, notably nutrient cycling, organic matter decomposition, and C sequestration, will be considered. Forest biodiversity will be considered at the ecosystem, species (plants, animals and microorganisms), and population level. Original works and reviews are both welcome.

Prof. Dr. Flora Angela Rutigliano
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Plant diversity
  • Animal diversity
  • Soil microbial diversity
  • Soil microbial activities
  • Nutrient cycling
  • C sequestration

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Vegetation and soil enzymes: effects on two forest soils in Southern Italy (Monte Faito) Naples

Curcio Elena, Danise Tiziana, Innangi Michele and Fioretto Antonietta

Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies. University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Caserta (Italy)

On the one hand, there is a large number of studies about the influence of plant diversity on soil physical and chemical characteristics. On the other hand, the same effects on soil biological activity and carbon storage processes still remain largely unknown. In a climate change scenario, interest in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems has recently increased given the role of stable soil C pool for mitigation of greenhouse gases. The aim of this work was to investigate and to compare the activities of some important enzymes involved in the main nutrient cycles in two soils developed on the same parental material, but under different vegetation cover: beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and pine (Pinus nigra J.F. Arnold), respectively. The research area is at about 1000 m a.s.l. on Monte Faito (Vico Equense, Naples, Campania, southern Italy). In addition to the enzymatic activities, soil carbon stock and soil main physical and chemical characteristics have been compared as well.

 2. Spatial distribution of soil fauna and organic matter in seminatural grazed forests: implications on soil functions and soil health

 Carlos Lozano Fondóna, Jesús Barrena Gonzálezb, Manuel Pulido Fernándezb, Javier Lozano Parrac, Cristina Mentaa

 Many soil functions and ecosystem processes depend on soil fauna. Recent studies show that the diversity of these soil communities is important since they provide multiple ecosystem functions and services across ecosystem types, including soil erosion control and nutrient cycling. In these terms, forests and soil forests play an important role since they represent a large reservoir of biodiversity. However, soil fauna in forests is often under threat by land use change and soil deplorable management.

Managed seminatural forested areas as Dehesas in SW of Spain are characterized by a two-layered vegetation structure: a savanna-like open tree layer (15-40 trees/ha) and an understory pasture in the same land unit. It is a system particularly subjected to environmental degradation and loss of soil biodiversity because of the increase of livestock densities. We hypothesize that the spatial distribution of soil fauna across a topographic gradient are sensitive to grazing pressure, elements of the landscape (trees) and soil physical-chemical parameters. A photo interpretation analysis was developed to identify and classify the intensity of grazing   and to define the experimental design. A total of 150 soil samples was collected in 2018 (60 samples on spring and 90 in autumn; 75 of them were revealed under canopy and 75 in open space) in a 20-year monitored catchment. Soil bulk density, porosity, organic matter, texture, water content and pH were also measured.  We aim to obtain the spatial distribution maps of both, biological and pedological parameters in order to define the relationships between grazing pressure and trees, soil fauna distribution and soil functions (as organic carbon sequestration and provision of suitable habitat for organisms) using statistical modelling and geostatistical methods.


3. Chestnut for fruits’ landscape (Castanea sativa Mill) as reservoir of soil biodiversity

 Cristina Menta a, Sara Remelli a, Antea De Monteb, Nicolo Mignardib, Carla Scottib

European chestnut tree (Castanea sativa Mill.) is a species cultivated since ancient time in the Mediterranean region and now its woods are considered ‘Habitat of Community interest’. This species has taken on a preeminent role in European countries, and in particular in Italy, where is located from the Alps to Sicily, because of an intense cultivation. It grows in high-level quality landscapes and it can be considered a good habitat for the maintenance of biodiversity. Chestnut-growing is typical of the hilly-mountainous environment of Emilia-Romagna region and has its roots deep in the culture and traditions of these territories. It plays an important role in climate changes mitigation thanks to its environmentally sustainable agro-ecosystem, characterized by low emissions of greenhouse gases (low use of agricultural machinery), an interesting soil carbon sequestration, and a high environmental biodiversity. Chestnut cultivation in Italy is subjected to considerable pressures that bring to abandonment, such as unfavorable weather conditions (winds, snowfalls) in addition to the presence of specific pests that endanger the plants themselves, as well as the crop and its quality.



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