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Department of Biogeography

Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

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Biodiversity in Forest Ecosystems (BIOFOR)

BE 2192/4-1 und 4-3

From 07/2001 to 12/2004

Principal Investigator: Carl Beierkuhnlein
Staff: Andreas Schmiedinger

Biodiversity in Forest Ecosystems (BIOFOR)

The project BIOFOR - Biodiversity in Forest Ecosystems - is funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. BIOFOR was established July 2001 and it is expected to end June 2004. A proposal for the period 2003 till 2004 has been submitted.

Biological diversity can be quantified and characterized in different ways. In particular, the expressions α-, β- and γ-diversity were introduced and developed to characterize biological species diversity at different spatial scales. In this project we will use these concepts to examine biological diversity of understorey plant species within plots (alpha) as well as variability in the species found among different plots (beta). Gamma-diversity then is the variability within the complete data set.

The aim of the study is to explore the beta-diversity of ground vegetation in forests as related to canopy composition, stand structure, site factors, and forest management history. We will examine patterns and correlates of ground vegetation beta-diversity in forests of western Canada (Columbia Mountains) and compare this to patterns found in Central Europe (Bavaria). Both forests are similar in terms of climate, lithology, and topography and in that they are conifer-dominated. They differ, however, in the composi-tion and diversity of canopy tree species, in their past history of natural disturbance and human man-agement, and in the regional pool of understory species. In particular, the forests in Germany have a long history of intensive forest management and a lack of natural disturbances. In the Monashees, forest management activities are relatively new, much of the landscape being in an unmanaged state. Resemblance indices (eg Euclidean Distance) shall be used to quantify beta-diversity between plots to identify patterns of increased heterogeneity of ground vegetation. Through this analysis the impact of forest management, as compared to site factors and the influence of forest canopy composition, on spatial patterns of beta-diversity will be evaluated.

Our objectives are to: 1) understand what factors influence diversity of understory forest plant communities in these forests; 2) determine the relative impact of forest management history, as compared to other factors influencing biodiversity, and 3) to develop methodologies for detection of areas with high biodiversity.

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