The Independent Effects of Forest Amount, Fragmentation, and Corridors on Forest Understory Plant Diversity

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  • It is well documented that forest amount in the surrounding landscape increases understory plant species diversity in a forested site. However, the extent to which fragmentation and structural connectivity (wooded corridors linking patches) also influence understory plant diversity remains largely unknown due to repeated conflation with forest amount. Here, we test the independent effects of these three landscape variables on understory plant species diversity at 70 forested sites in Ontario. Forest amount had large positive effects on richness and negative effects on species assemblage uniqueness. Fragmentation reduced species richness and evenness, through negative effects on short-distance dispersers. Both had their maximum effects within 5 km of sites. Connectivity did not affect species richness but reduced both evenness and species assemblage uniqueness. The results demonstrate that maximizing forest amount is of primary importance for conserving forest plants, and increasing structural connectivity is not a viable strategy for maintaining forest plant communities.

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  • Copyright © 2022 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2022


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