Tree-related microhabitats are promising yet underused tools for biodiversity (...)

Martin M, Paillet Y, Larrieu L, Kern CC, Raymond P, Drapeau P and Fenton NJ (2022) Tree-Related Microhabitats Are Promising Yet Underused Tools for Biodiversity and Nature Conservation: A Systematic Review for International Perspectives. Front. For. Glob. Change 5:818474. https://doi:10.3389/ffgc.2022.818474

Sustainable management of forest ecosystems requires the use of reliable and easy to implement biodiversity and naturalness indicators. Tree-relatedmicrohabitats (TreMs) can fulfill these roles as they harbor specialized species that directly or indirectly depend on them, and are generally more abundant and diverse in natural forests or forests unmanaged for several decades. The TreM concept is however still recent, implying the existence of many knowledge gaps that can challenge its robustness and applicability. To evaluate the current state of knowledge on TreMs, we conducted a systematic review followed by a bibliometric analysis of the literature identified. A total of 101 articles constituted the final corpus. Most of the articles (60.3%) were published in 2017 or after. TreM research presented a marked lack of geographical representativity, as the vast majority (68.3%) of the articles studied French, German or Italian forests. The main themes addressed by the literature were the value of TreMs as biodiversity indicators, the impact of forest management on TreMs and the factors at the tree- and stand-scales favoring TreMs occurrence. Old-growth and unmanaged forests played a key role as a “natural” forest reference for these previous themes, as TreMs were often much more abundant and diverse compared to managed forests. Arthropods were the main phylum studied for the theme of TreMs as biodiversity indicators. Other more diverse themes were identified, such as restoration, remote sensing, climate change and economy and there was a lack of research related to the social sciences. Overall, current research on TreMs has focused on assessing its robustness as an indicator of biodiversity and naturalness at the stand scale. The important geographical gap identified underscores the importance of expanding the use of the TreMs in other forest ecosystems of the world. The notable efforts made in recent years to standardize TreM studies are an important step in this direction. The novelty of the TreM concept can partially explain the thematic knowledge gaps. Our results nevertheless stress the high potential of TreMs for multidisciplinary research, and we discuss the benefits of expanding the use of TreMs on a larger spatial scale..

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