Managing environmental pressures in temperate forests: Processbased modelling of understorey community dynamics to promote biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision

01 October 2017 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
temperate forests
Project description

Urbanisation, land use intensification, climate change and deposition of acidifying and eutrophying

pollutants have led to a decline of biodiversity across Europe. To halt or reverse this trend,

remaining natural and semi-natural ecosystems need to be managed well. This study aims at

understanding the influence of forest management on the response of temperate forests to these

pressures. The study will focus on plant communities that occur on the forest floor, as they

determine most of the forest’ plant biodiversity and substantially contribute to its overall

functioning. Since forests and their understoreys react slowly to changing environmental

conditions and management interventions, the effects of management practices need to be

investigated in the long term. Process-based models that mimic the dynamics of the understorey

by considering all processes that drive their dynamics, from leaf-level photosynthesis to plant

growth and community assembly, will be extremely useful to study such long-term effects but are

currently absent. By merging concepts of grassland models, yield-based crop models and forest

gap models, this project will develop an innovative process-based model to predict changes of

understorey communities in temperate forests driven by climate change, acidifying and

eutrophying deposition and forest management. Changes in understorey composition will be

evaluated in terms of biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem service provisioning.