Special Issue "Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Inventory, Quantitative Methods and Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Giorgio Brunialti
Website
Guest Editor
TerraData Environmentrics, Spin Off Company of the University of Siena, Via Bardelloni 19, 58025 Monterotondo Marittimo, GR, Italy
Interests: environmental monitoring and indicator species; standardization of biomonitoring methods; quality assurance procedures in environmental monitoring; biodiversity and sustainable forest management; lichen diversity
Dr. Luisa Frati
Website
Guest Editor
TerraData Environmentrics, Spin Off Company of the University of Siena, Via Bardelloni 19, 58025 Monterotondo Marittimo, GR, Italy
Interests: environmental monitoring and biomonitoring; applicability of bioindication and bioaccumulation techniques; environmental alteration of risk areas; lichen functional traits; sustainable forest management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Understanding patterns of biodiversity and their relationship with environmental gradients is a key issue in ecological research and conservation in forests. Indeed, several environmental factors are able to influence species distributions in these complex ecosystems. It is therefore essential to distinguish among the effects of natural factors from the anthropogenic ones (e.g., environmental pollution, climate change, forest management) by adopting reliable models able to predict future scenarios of species distribution.

In the last 20 years, the use of statistical tools such as species distribution models or ecological niche models has allowed making great strides in the subject, with hundreds of scientific studies in this field.

In this Forests Special Issue, entitled “Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests”, we aim to collect the timely and emerging research in this field. We encourage researchers to send contributions (research and review articles) on the following topics:

  • Climate change and the distribution of sensitive species or species assemblages;
  • Modelling the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity;
  • Determining the risk of species invasions by means of modeling approaches;
  • Modelling functional traits and indicator species;
  • Environmental niche models and species conservation;
  • Methodological aspects of species distribution models (SDM);
  • Recommendations and guidelines to select the most appropriate model;
  • The drawbacks connected with the issue of species presence-only data and pseudo-absences.

Dr. Giorgio Brunialti
Dr. Luisa Frati
Guest Editors

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.

Keywords

  • Environmental niche models
  • Species assemblages
  • Indicator species
  • Invasive species
  • Climate change
  • Spatial analyses
  • Forest modeling
  • Biogeography
  • Species conservation
  • Forest continuity

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Potential Effects of Climate Change on the Geographic Distribution of the Endangered Plant Species Manihot walkerae
Forests 2020, 11(6), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060689 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
Walker’s Manihot, Manihot walkerae, is an endangered plant that is endemic to the Tamaulipan thornscrub ecoregion of extreme southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. M. walkerae populations are highly fragmented and are found on both protected public lands and private property. Habitat loss [...] Read more.
Walker’s Manihot, Manihot walkerae, is an endangered plant that is endemic to the Tamaulipan thornscrub ecoregion of extreme southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. M. walkerae populations are highly fragmented and are found on both protected public lands and private property. Habitat loss and competition by invasive species are the most detrimental threats for M. walkerae; however, the effect of climate change on M. walkerae’s geographic distribution remains unexplored and could result in further range restrictions. Our objectives are to evaluate the potential effects of climate change on the distribution of M. walkerae and assess the usefulness of natural protected areas in future conservation. We predict current and future geographic distribution for M. walkerae (years 2050 and 2070) using three different general circulation models (CM3, CMIP5, and HADGEM) and two climate change scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5). A total of nineteen spatially rarefied occurrences for M. walkerae and ten non-highly correlated bioclimatic variables were inputted to the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt) to produce twenty replicates per scenario. The area under the curve (AUC) value for the consensus model was higher than 0.90 and the partial ROC value was higher than 1.80, indicating a high predictive ability. The potential reduction in geographic distribution for M. walkerae by the effect of climate change was variable throughout the models, but collectively they predict a restriction in distribution. The most severe reductions were 9% for the year 2050 with the CM3 model at an 8.5 RCP, and 14% for the year 2070 with the CMIP5 model at the 4.5 RCP. The future geographic distribution of M. walkerae was overlapped with protected lands in the U.S. and Mexico in order to identify areas that could be suitable for future conservation efforts. In the U.S. there are several protected areas that are potentially suitable for M. walkerae, whereas in Mexico no protected areas exist within M. walkerae suitable habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Coastal Pine-Oak Glacial Refugia in the Mediterranean Basin: A Biogeographic Approach Based on Charcoal Analysis and Spatial Modelling
Forests 2020, 11(6), 673; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060673 - 12 Jun 2020
Abstract
During the glacial episodes of the Quaternary, European forests were restricted to small favourable spots, namely refugia, acting as biodiversity reservoirs. the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas have been considered as the main glacial refugia of trees in Europe. In this study, we [...] Read more.
During the glacial episodes of the Quaternary, European forests were restricted to small favourable spots, namely refugia, acting as biodiversity reservoirs. the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas have been considered as the main glacial refugia of trees in Europe. In this study, we estimate the composition of the last glacial forest in a coastal cave of the Cilento area (SW Italy) in seven time frames, spanning from the last Pleniglacial to the Late Glacial. Charcoal analyses were performed in seven archaeological layers. Furthermore, a paleoclimate modelling (Maxent) approach was used to complement the taxonomic identification of charcoal fragments to estimate the past potential distribution of tree species in Europe. Our results showed that the mesothermophilous forest survived in this region in the core of the Mediterranean basin during the Last Glacial Period (LGP, since ~36 ka cal BP), indicating that this area played an important role as a reservoir of woodland biodiversity. Here, Quercus pubescens was the most abundant component, followed by a wide variety of deciduous trees and Pinus nigra. Charcoal data also pointed at the crucial role of this coastal area, acting as a reservoir for warm temperate trees of genera Tilia, Carpinus and Sambucus, in LGP, in the Mediterranean region. Our modelling results showed that P. nigra might be the main candidate as a “Pinus sylvestris type” in the study site in the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Furthermore, we found that P. nigra might coexist with Q. pubescens in several European territories both currently and in the LGM. All models showed high levels of predictive performances. Our results highlight the advantage of combining different approaches such as charcoal analysis and ecological niche models to explore biogeographic questions about past and current forest distribution, with important implications to inform today’s forest management and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Modeling Tree Species Count Data in the Understory and Canopy Layer of Two Mixed Old-Growth Forests in the Dinaric Region
Forests 2020, 11(5), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050531 - 09 May 2020
Abstract
The distribution of tree species has traditionally been analyzed based on tree diameter (DBH) as a continuous variable. However, this approach does not usually provide information on how species are distributed across the area of interest. In this study, an inverse approach was [...] Read more.
The distribution of tree species has traditionally been analyzed based on tree diameter (DBH) as a continuous variable. However, this approach does not usually provide information on how species are distributed across the area of interest. In this study, an inverse approach was applied to investigate tree distribution patterns in two Dinaric old-growth forest stands composed primarily of European beech, silver fir, and Norway spruce. Specifically, the variance-to-mean relationship of tree counts based on 80 plots (40 in each old-growth stand) were evaluated by using a dispersion index. Understory trees exhibited clumped and random patterns, whereas canopy trees were mostly distributed in a random manner. A regular pattern was only determined for beech and all trees in the canopy layer (two cases out of ten). The observed discrete variables were further compared with three theoretical distributions. It was found that a Poisson, binomial, and negative binomial model best fitted the observed count data, which, based on the dispersion index, exhibited a random, regular, and clumped pattern, respectively. The frequency of plots with low species presence and complete absence of species was also revealed. Consequently, the analysis and modeling of tree counts can be of practical use for species conservation purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Impact of Climate Change on the Distribution of Euscaphis japonica (Staphyleaceae) Trees
Forests 2020, 11(5), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050525 - 08 May 2020
Abstract
Analyzing the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and individual species is of great significance for incorporating management responses to conservation policy development. Euscaphis japonica (Staphyleaceae), a small tree or deciduous shrub, is distributed among the open forests or mountainous valleys of [...] Read more.
Analyzing the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and individual species is of great significance for incorporating management responses to conservation policy development. Euscaphis japonica (Staphyleaceae), a small tree or deciduous shrub, is distributed among the open forests or mountainous valleys of Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and southern China. Meanwhile, it is also used as a medicinal and ornamental plant. Nonetheless, the extents of E. japonica forest have gradually shrunk as a result of deforestation, together with the regional influence of climate change. The present study employed two methods for modeling species distribution, Maxent and Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction (GARP), to model the potential distribution of this species and the effects of climate change on it. Our results suggest that both models performed favorably, but GARP outperformed Maxent for all performance metrics. The temperate and subtropical regions of eastern China where the species had been recorded was very suitable for E. japonica growth. Temperature and precipitation were two primary environmental factors affecting the distribution of E. japonica. Under climate change scenarios, the range of suitable habitats for E. japonica will expand geographically toward the north. Our findings may be used in several ways such as identifying currently undocumented locations of E. japonica, sites where it may occur in the future, or potential locations where the species could be introduced and so contribute to the conservation and management of this species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Role of the Dominant Species on the Distributions of Neighbor Species in a Subtropical Forest
Forests 2020, 11(3), 352; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030352 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
Understanding the role of dominant species in structuring the distribution of neighbor species is an important part of understanding community assembly, a central goal of ecology. Phylogenetic information helps resolve the multitude of processes driving community assembly and the importance of evolution in [...] Read more.
Understanding the role of dominant species in structuring the distribution of neighbor species is an important part of understanding community assembly, a central goal of ecology. Phylogenetic information helps resolve the multitude of processes driving community assembly and the importance of evolution in the assembly process. In this study, we classified species in a 20-ha subtropical forest in southern China into groups with different degrees of phylogenetic relatedness to the dominant species Castanopsis chinensis. Species surrounding individuals of C. chinensis were sampled in an equal area annulus at six spatial scales, counting the percent of relatives and comparing this to permutation tests of a null model and variance among species groups. The results demonstrated that dominant species affected their relatives depending on community successional stage. Theory would predict that competitive exclusion and density-dependence mechanisms should lead to neighbors that are more distant in phylogeny from C. chinensis. However, in mature forests distant relatives were subjected to competitive repulsion by C. chinensis, while environment filtering led to fewer distant species, regardless of scale. A variety of biological and non-biological factors appear to result in a U-shaped quantitative distribution determined by the dominant species C. chinensis. Scale effects also influenced the dominant species. As a dominant species, C. chinensis played an important role in structuring the species distributions and coexistence of neighbor species in a subtropical forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Habitat Models of Focal Species Can Link Ecology and Decision-Making in Sustainable Forest Management
Forests 2020, 11(7), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11070721 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
A fundamental problem of sustainability is how to reduce the double complexity of ecological and social systems into simple operational terms. We highlight that the conservation concept of focal species (selected species sensitive to a set of anthropogenic threats to their habitat) links [...] Read more.
A fundamental problem of sustainability is how to reduce the double complexity of ecological and social systems into simple operational terms. We highlight that the conservation concept of focal species (selected species sensitive to a set of anthropogenic threats to their habitat) links multiple issues of ecological sustainability, and their habitat models can provide a practical tool for solving these issues. A review of the literature shows that most spatial modeling of focal species focuses on vertebrates, lacks the aspect of aquatic and soil habitats, and has been slow in the uptake by actual management planning. We elaborate on a deductive modeling approach that first generalizes the main influential dimensions of habitat change (threats), which are then parameterized as habitat quality estimates for focal species. If built on theoretical understanding and properly scaled, the maps produced with such models can cost-effectively describe the dynamics of ecological qualities across forest landscapes, help set conservation priorities, and reflect on management plans and practices. The models also serve as ecological hypotheses on biodiversity and landscape function. We illustrate this approach based on recent additions to the forest reserve network in Estonia, which addressed the insufficient protection of productive forest types. For this purpose, mostly former production forests that may require restoration were set aside. We distinguished seven major habitat dimensions and their representative taxa in these forests and depicted each dimension as a practical stand-scale decision tree of habitat quality. The model outcomes implied that popular stand-structural targets of active forest restoration would recover passively in reasonable time in these areas, while a critically degraded condition (loss of old trees of characteristic species) required management beyond reserve borders. Another hidden issue revealed was that only a few stands of consistently low habitat quality concentrated in the landscape to allow cost-efficient restoration planning. We conclude that useful habitat models for sustainable forest management have to balance single-species realism with stakeholder expectations of meaningful targets and scales. Addressing such social aspects through the focal species concept could accelerate the adoption of biodiversity distribution modeling in forestry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling of Species Distribution and Biodiversity in Forests)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop