Multi-species forests of the southern Far East: resilient forest ecosystems and refugia for biodiversity

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

A new method has been developed for delineating high conservation value forests in the southern Far East that uses the quantity of canopy-forming woody species as an indicator of heightened vegetative diversity. Forest inventory materials can be analyzed for the presence of this indicator. The composition and structure of multispecies stands (those containing more than 6 canopy-forming species) in Korean pine-broadleaf forests of Primorsky Krai was investigated. Floristic diversity increased proportionally with the quantity of woody, canopy-forming species and reached its highest levels in multispecies stands. The number of finds of rare species (including Taxus cuspidata, Galium paradoxum, Paeonia oreogeton and Dioscorea nipponica) was disproportionally high in multispecies stands and significantly lower in stands with less canopy-forming species, even those with 6 species. The vertical structure of the studied forest ecosystems became more complex with increasing quantity of canopy-forming species; in multispecies stands continuous vegetative cover (that is, without distinguishable canopy layers) was frequently observed, similar to structures observed in undisturbed tropical forests. Multispecies stands often have a mosaic structure with gaps of various sizes. The herbaceous and shrub layers in multispecies stands demonstrate a lack of a clear dominant and a complex mosaic structure.

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