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Effects of small-scale management on biodiversity of an abandoned coppice forest in Japan: a case study on vegetation regeneration and ground beetle community

Author(s): S. Shibuya | K. Kubota | M. Ohsawa

Journal: Web Ecology
ISSN 2193-3081

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 116;
Date: 2008;
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We studied the effects of small-scale vegetation disturbances on biodiversity in an abandoned coppice forest in central Japan during 2004–2006. We assessed biodiversity by examining vegetation regeneration and by changes in the diversity and abundance of ground beetles after experimental manipulations including tree felling, vegetation clearing, and litter removal. Our experimental design was dictated by the need of producing only small disturbances; therefore we could not replicate plots. Instead, we used a repeated measures approach during three years to document the consistency of experimental effects. We found that the diversity of regenerating vegetation increased dramatically due to recruitment of many new species after clearing ground vegetation. Tree cutting caused strong environmental changes and affected vegetation regeneration rate but not diversity. Tree cutting also significantly increased the diversity of ground beetle species, while litter removal affected the abundance of ground beetles. Our results suggest that a sound conservation practice shall combine tree cutting with ground vegetation clearing and litter removal. Besides, conservation of abandoned forests may be based on low-intensity labor, including tree cutting on restricted areas. Finally, ground beetles appeared to be surprisingly sensitive to vegetation disturbance on a restricted area and thus can be suggested for monitoring such small-scale-disturbance-based conservation practices.

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