Tree related microhabitats in temperate and Mediterranean European forests: A hierarchical typology for inventory standardization

 Laurent Larrieu, Yoan Paillet, Susanne Winter, Rita Bütler, Daniel Kraus, Frank Krumm, Thibault Lachat, Alexa K. Michel, Baptiste Regnery, Kris Vandekerkhove, Ecological Indicators, Volume 84, January 2018

 

Abstract

 

Tree related Microhabitats (hereafter TreMs) have been widely recognized as important substrates and structures for biodiversity in both commercial and protected forests and are receiving increasing attention in management, conservation and research. How to record TreMs in forest inventories is a question of recent interest since TreMs represent potential indirect indicators for the specialized species that use them as substrates or habitat at least for a part of their life-cycle. However, there is a wide range of differing interpretations as to what exactly constitutes a TreM and what specific features should be surveyed in the field.

 

In an attempt to harmonize future TreM inventories, we propose a definition and a typology of TreM types borne by living and dead standing trees in temperate and Mediterranean forests in Europe. Our aim is to provide users with definitions which make unequivocal TreM determination possible. Our typology is structured around seven basic forms according to morphological characteristics and biodiversity relevance: i) cavities lato sensu, ii) tree injuries and exposed wood, iii) crown deadwood, iv) excrescences, v) fruiting bodies of saproxylic fungi and fungi-like organisms, vi) epiphytic and epixylic structures, and vii) exudates. The typology is then further detailed into 15 groups and 47 types with a hierarchical structure allowing the typology to be used for different purposes. The typology, along with guidelines for standardized recording we propose, is an unprecedented reference tool to make data on TreMs comparable across different regions, forest types and tree species, and should greatly improve the reliability of TreM monitoring. It provides the basis for compiling these data and may help to improve the reliability of reporting and evaluation of the conservation value of forests. Finally, our work emphasizes the need for further research on TreMs to better understand their dynamics and their link with biodiversity in order to more fully integrate TreM monitoring into forest management.

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