Project in the picture

Alpha diversity in forests

We examine the effects of several local and regional environmental factors on local alpha diversity in temperate forests across a European gradient: gamma diversity (total number of plant species per forest patch), historical forest age (ancient / recent) and landscape type (open / bocage). Site conditions are used as covariables and assessed by means of Ellenberg Indicator Values for soil moisture, soil nitrogen, soil pH and light availability. Further, we investigate community saturation patterns based on the relationship between alpha and gamma diversity for different forest types that vary in their surrounding landscape type and historical forest age.


Increasing agricultural intensity is associated with reduced connectivity of potential habitats of forest plant species. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the importance of landscape elements (such as connecting hedgerows) and historical stand age for the local diversity of forest species. A comprehensive prediction of forest alpha diversity across a large-scale gradient provides valuable information to identify patches with high alpha diversity and improve specific conservation actions.


Deciduous forest plots (3538 plots in 699 forest patches) are sampled along a European gradient from southwest to northeast comprising eight regions in five countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Estonia).


The project is coordinated by Martin Diekmann at the University of Bremen in collaboration with the FLEUR network.