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Book Chapter

Impacts of Land Use on Habitat Functions of Old-Growth Forests and their Biodiversity


Frank,  Dorothea
Research Group Biogeochemical Model-data Integration, Dr. M. Reichstein, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;


Wirth,  Christian
Research Group Organismic Biogeochemistry, Dr. C. Wirth, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Frank, D., Finckh, M., & Wirth, C. (2009). Impacts of Land Use on Habitat Functions of Old-Growth Forests and their Biodiversity. In C. Wirth, G. Gleixner, & M. Heimann (Eds.), Old-Growth Forests (pp. 429-450). Berlin: Springer.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-D7FF-A
Based on a literature review we analysed the influence of historic and contemporary human impacts on the habitat function of old-growth forests in the boreal, the tropics and in selected temperate regions. Old-growth and late-successional forests are of singular relevance for many specialised plant and animal species. These forests possess complex structures. They exhibit spatiotemporal stability and environmental continuity on the larger scales and environmental heterogeneity at the micro-scale. These features appear to be preconditions for the occurrence of obligate old-growth biocenoses and the development of plant–animal interactions that are relevant for ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Across the world, economic driving forces are exerting strong pressure on the remaining old-growth forests. Human impacts on forests are ubiquitous, and the area covered by intact forest landscapes is continuously decreasing. However, there is no scientific consent about a minimum threshold for acceptable human disturbances in old-growth forests that maintains the potential for a complete restoration of natural dynamics. The future will show to what degree old-growth biota will be able to cope with growing anthropogenic perturbations.