Habitat loss and transformation are the greatest threats to biodiversity. In the Mediterranean Basin, planting pines has been a widespread practice that has transformed and degraded natural habitats. Understanding the response of living organisms to these anthropogenic disturbances and their management is essential for the conservation of biodiversity. Reforestation in Spain until the end of the 20th century was conducted primarily with Pinus species at unnaturally high densities. We have analyzed the response of a reptile community to thinning management in pine plantations within the Sierra Nevada National Park (SE Spain). Surveyed plots covered a gradient of tree densities (according treatments) from unlogged plots, 50% logged trees, 66% logged trees, and surrounding areas of open landscape with sparse trees. Four replicates (plots) were considered per treatment, with 4 visits per plot. In each plot, we measured three reptile community metrics, species richness, abundance, and Pielou’s evenness. We hypothesize that reptile metrics will increase with the reduction of pine density and canopy, and an increase of solar radiation. Our results showed a negligible response after a 50% thinning, but a significant response of the reptile community after a 66% reduction. This study demonstrates that intense logging in pine plantations restores reptile diversity in the Mediterranean Basin. This is intended to serve as a model for forest management to restore biodiversity in this region.
Journal: Forest Ecology and Management