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    Ecosystem Services from Small Forest Patches in AgriculturalLandscapes

    Guillaume Decocq1 & Emilie Andrieu2 & Jrg Brunet3 & Olivier Chabrerie1 &Pieter De Frenne4 & Pallieter De Smedt4 & Marc Deconchat2 & Martin Diekmann5 &Steffen Ehrmann6 & Brice Giffard2 & Elena Gorriz Mifsud7 & Karin Hansen8 &Martin Hermy9 & Annette Kolb5 & Jonathan Lenoir1 & Jaan Liira10 & Filip Moldan11 &Irina Prokofieva7 & Lars Rosenqvist8 & Elsa Varela7,12 & Alicia Valds1 & Kris Verheyen4 &Monika Wulf13,14

    Published online: 29 January 2016# Springer International Publishing AG 2016

    Abstract In Europe, like in many temperate lowlands world-wide, forest has a long history of fragmentation and land usechange. In many places, forest landscapes consist of patchesof different quality, age, size and isolation, embedded in amore or less intensively managed agricultural matrix. As po-tential biodiversity islets, small forest patches (SFP) may de-liver several crucial ecosystem services to human society, butthey receive little attention compared to large, relatively intactforest patches. Beyond their role as a biodiversity reservoir,SFP provide important in situ services such as timber and wildfood (game, edible plants and mushrooms) production. At thelandscape scale, SFP may enhance the crop production via

    physical (obstacle against wind and floods) and biological(sources of pollinators and natural enemies) regulation, butmay, on the other hand, also be involved in the spread ofinfectious diseases. Depending on their geographic location,SFP can also greatly influence the water cycle and contributeto supply high-quality water to agriculture and people.Globally, SFP are important carbon sinks and are involvedin nutrient cycles, thus play a role in climate change mitiga-tion. Cultural services are more related to landscape valuesthan to SFP per se, but the latter may contribute to the con-struction of community identity. We conclude that SFP, aslocal biodiversity hotspots in degraded landscapes, have the

    Curr Forestry Rep (2016) 2:3044DOI 10.1007/s40725-016-0028-x

    This article is part of the Topical Collection on Ecological Function

    * Guillaume

    1 UR Ecologie et Dynamique des Systmes Anthropiss (EDYSAN,FRE 3498 CNRS), Jules Verne University of Picardie, 1 rue desLouvels, F-80037 Amiens Cedex 1, France

    2 UMR 1201 Dynafor, Inra, Chemin de Borde Rouge, CS 52627,F-31326 Castanet Tolosan, France

    3 Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University ofAgricultural Sciences, Box 49, SE-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden

    4 Forest & Nature Lab, Ghent University, Geraardsbergsesteenweg267, BE-9090 Melle-Gontrode, Belgium

    5 Institute of Ecology, FB02, University of Bremen, Leobener Str.,D-28359 Bremen, Germany

    6 Faculty of Biology, Department of Geobotany, University ofFreiburg, Schnzlestr. 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany

    7 Forest Sciences Center of Catalonia (CTFC), St. Pau Historical Site,St. Leopold Pavilion, c/St. Antoni Maria Claret 167,08025 Barcelona, Spain

    8 IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Box 210 60, SE-10031 Stockholm, Sweden

    9 Division of Forest, Nature and Landscape, University of Leuven,Celestijnenlaan 200E, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium

    10 Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Lai 40,EE-51005 Tartu, Estonia

    11 IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Box 530 21, SE-40014 Gothenburg, Sweden

    12 Center for Agro-Food Economy and Development,CREDA-UPC-IRTA, Edifici ESAB. Parc Mediterrani de laTecnologia C/Esteve Terrades 8, Castelldefels,E-08860 Barcelona, Spain

    13 ZALF Institute of Land Use Systems, Eberswalder Strae 84,D-15374 Mncheberg, Germany

    14 Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam,Maulbeerallee 2, D-14469 Potsdam, Germany

  • potential to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services andmay even be crucial for the ecological intensification of agro-ecosystems. There is thus an urgent need to increase ourknowledge about the relationships between biodiversity andecosystem services delivered by these SFP in agriculturallandscapes.

    Keywords Biodiversity . Cultural services . Lowlands .

    Provisioning services . Regulating services . Supportingservices


    Habitat fragmentation is widely acknowledged as a majorthreat to biodiversity worldwide [13], but see [4]. It encom-passes at least four interacting processes: (i) pure habitat loss,which usually directly destroys sessile organisms (e.g. plants)and constrains mobile organisms (e.g. birds and mammals)that retreat into remnant patches of habitat; (ii) reduction offragment size, which reduces species richness and populationsizes, increasing the risk of local extinction [5]; (iii) increase inedge:interior ratio, which can promote the colonisation of hab-itat generalists and species from neighbouring habitats to thedetriment of habitat specialists that have retreated to remnants[6]; and (iv) increase in spatial isolation of remnant habitatpatches, which reduces the movements of individuals betweenpopulations [7] and disrupts metapopulation and meta-community functioning [8, 9]. In Europe, forest has a longhistory of fragmentation and land use/cover change [1012].The clearance of forests for agriculture and their recovery onabandoned lands resulted in patchy forest cover with patchesof different quality, age, size and isolation embedded in a moreor less intensively managed agricultural matrix. Ecologically,these forest patches often exhibit homogenized stand struc-ture, either because they are intensively managed or originatefrom plantations or afforestation of former farmlands [1315],or management can be neglected [16].

    The increasing demand for food and the promotion ofbioenergy crops in the context of a bio-based energy transitionhave led to an increasing demand for new agricultural areasworldwide and increased crop production to the detriment ofsemi-natural habitats, including forests [17]. Therefore, land-scape change in the forms of clearance of existing forestpatches and afforestation of abandoned lands are still ongoingprocesses in European lowlands [18]. In general and at thesame time, forests are of major importance to human society,delivering several crucial ecosystem services [19], but alsosome disservices (e.g. diseases [20]). There is growing evi-dence that biodiversity is vital to ecosystem functioning[2123, 24, 25, 26]. By decreasing biodiversity, fragmenta-tion may thus impact ecosystem processes such as nutrientcycling and energy flows and ultimately affect flows of

    ecosystem service [27, 28]. Ecosystem services (ES) areoften categorized as provisioning, regulating, cultural andsupporting services [29]. Costanza [30] proposed an alterna-tive classification based on the spatial characteristics of ES,using five categories: in situ, local-proximal, directional flowrelated, global and user movement related.

    Compared to large forest ecosystems, e.g. [19, 31], littleis known about the role of biodiversity of small forest patches(SFP, from less than 1 to 50 ha; [32]) in delivering ES tosociety [33, 34] in agricultural landscapes, which cover40 % of the Earths surface [35]. The research effort has in-deed mostly focused on how forest fragmentation actuallyalters the delivering of ES. Furthermore, these SFP are poten-tially threatened by urbanisation, expanding croplands andagricultural intensification despite their potential to maintainbiodiversity and contribute to the Becological intensification^of agro-ecosystems [36] and human well-being. Thus, there isan urgent need to increase our understanding of the relation-ship between biodiversity and ES delivered by SFP embeddedin an agricultural landscape matrix (Fig. 1). We here reviewthe literature on the topic, with a special focus on temperateEuropean landscapes and make profit from still unpublishedresults of the smallFOREST BiodivERsA project into whichall co-authors of this paper were involved. FollowingCostanzas classification [30], we successively review in situES (i.e. that are delivered locally, within the ecosystem), local-proximal ES (i.e. that depends on the spatial proximity of thefocal ecosystem), directional flow-related ES (i.e. from theecosystem to the point of use), global ES (i.e. independentfrom ecosystem location) and user movement-related ES(i.e. involving a movement of people towards the ecosystem)(Table 1).

    In Situ Services


    Most contemporary SFP are young, in an early secondary-successional stage, homogeneous in their structure, and, as aconsequence, host only a few forest-specialist species[3740]. The sensitivity of biodiversity components to rem-nant habitat size and habitat structural quality varies signifi-cantly [4143]. Sessile and less mobile organisms are morethreatened by habitat degradation [40, 4446] in comparisonto species with good dispersal or mobility [47, 48]. The effectof fragmentation on species richness and community compo-sition in forests is mediated by four main groups of variables:(1) forest patch quality in terms of soil variables, notably pH,nutrient availability and light [11, 49]; (2) patch heterogeneity,i.e. the variability of environmental drivers and stand diversity[50, 51]; (3) habitat configuration in terms of forest patch sizeand isolation [49, 52]; and (4) the history of the patch,

    Curr Forestry Rep (2016) 2:3044 31

  • especially whether it has been continuously forested for cen-turies (ancient forest) or afforested on agricultural land (recentforest) [52, 53]. Generally, the number of species in SFP in-creases with increasing patch a


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