Relationships between coarse woody debris habitat quality and forest maturity attributes
Van Galen, LG and Jordan, GJ and Baker, SC, Relationships between coarse woody debris habitat quality and forest maturity attributes, Conservation Science and Practice, 1, (8) Article e55. ISSN 2578-4854 (2019) [Refereed Article]
Coarse woody debris (CWD) is an important contributor to forest biodiversity because it provides essential habitat for saproxylic (dead wood‐dependent) species. However, CWD is frequently overlooked in forest management and restoration decisions around the world. We have therefore developed an index of CWD habitat quality that integrates four important characteristics of saproxylic habitat. We apply this index to wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania, Australia. The relationships between the CWD index and standing forest structural and floristic maturity metrics were weak (R2 < .09), highlighting the necessity to explicitly factor CWD habitat into conservation planning. A hump‐shaped relationship between current CWD habitat quality and variables linked to future quality (standing tree basal area and the number of old‐growth eucalypts) implies that stands with medium current quality provide better potential future habitat than stands with high current quality. CWD habitat quality was lower in previously harvested stands. We present a web app that calculates CWD habitat quality scores from raw field measurements. Our approach can be applied in conservation assessments to determine habitat availability for biodiversity, and to quantify the impacts of management actions and restoration activities.