Research article

Can native plant species be preserved in an anthropogenic forest landscape dominated by aliens? A case study from Mediterranean Chile

Steffi Heinrichs , Carolin Stiehl, Burkhard Müller-Using

Steffi Heinrichs
Department Silviculture and Forest Ecology of the Temperate Zones, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen - Germany. Email: sheinri@gwdg.de
Carolin Stiehl
Department Silviculture and Forest Ecology of the Temperate Zones, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen - Germany
Burkhard Müller-Using
Using - Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile

Online First: January 28, 2016
Heinrichs, S., Stiehl, C., Müller-Using, B. 2016. Can native plant species be preserved in an anthropogenic forest landscape dominated by aliens? A case study from Mediterranean Chile. Annals of Forest Research DOI:10.15287/afr.2016.498


Plantations with fast growing exotic tree species can negatively affect native plant species diversity and promote the spread of alien species. Mediterranean Chile experienced major landscape changes with a vast expansion of industrial plantations of Pinus radiata in the past. However, with increasing knowledge of biodiversity effects on ecosystem services Chilean forest owners now aim to integrate the conservation of native biodiversity into forest management, but data on native species diversity and establishment within a plantation landscape is scarce. Here we investigated plant species diversity and composition in four forest management options applied within a landscape dominated by P. radiata plantations in comparison to an unmanaged reference: (i) a clear cut, (ii) a strip cut, (iii) a native canopy of Nothofagus glauca and (iv) a young P. radiata plantation. We wanted to assess if native plant species can be maintained either by natural regeneration or by planting of native tree species (Nothofagus glauca, N. obliqua, Quillaja saponaria) within this landscape. Results show a high diversity of native and forest plant species within the different management options indicating a high potential for native biodiversity restoration within an anthropogenic landscape. In particular, herbaceous species can benefit from management. They are rare in unmanaged natural forests that are characterized by low light conditions and a thick litter layer. Management, however, also promoted a diversity of alien species. The rapid spread of alien grass species after management can deter an initial establishment of native tree species or the survival and growth after planting mainly under dry but less under sufficient moisture conditions. The most unsuccessful option for promoting native plant species was clear cutting in a dry area where alien grasses were abundant. For drought-tolerant tree species such as Quillaja saponaria, though, even a joint establishment with Pinus radiata seems possible.


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  • Steffi Heinrichs
  • Carolin Stiehl
  • Burkhard Müller-Using
  • Steffi Heinrichs
  • Carolin Stiehl
  • Burkhard Müller-Using