Jimenez-Albarral JJ, Pleguezuelos JM, Santos X




The greatest threat to biodiversity is the alteration and destruction of habitats, and one of the causes is tree plantation, which normally are monospecific and unnatural high-density forest stands. In Spain these contain mainly Pinus species, and cover 25% of the forested area. Due to their dense canopy cover, these monocultures harbor poor communities in terms of species richness and abundance of other organisms, such as reptiles. In November 2014, wind storms affected a pine plantation in the western end of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park, totally or partially knocking down pines 65 years old. We have studied the response of the reptile community in the affected plots three and five years after the disturbance. Due to the low thermal quality of pine plantations for reptiles, we hypothesized that reptile community metrics (abundance and species richness) would be positively affected by this perturbation. We found greater richness and density of reptiles in the plots affected by maximum and intermediate disturbance than in the non-affected plots. We conclude that natural catastrophic events such as wind storms can diversify reptile communities in Mediterranean pine plantations thanks to a rapid response of generalist reptile species.


Journal: Basic and Applied Ecology

DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2020.04.005