Biodiversity correlates with regional patterns of forest litter pools

Montserrat Vilà, Jordi Vayreda, Carles Gracia, Joan Ibáñez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We compared litter pools of more than 1,000 forests differing in tree species' diversity over a large scale in Catalonia (NE Spain). Monospecific forests always had smaller litter pools than mixed (from 2 to 5 tree species) forests. Whether there was a positive effect beyond two species mixtures depended on the species and functional identity of the dominant tree species. In sclerophyllous forests the positive effect of diversity was a step-function from one to more species. However, in conifers, litter pools increased constantly with tree diversity. The identity of the dominant tree species and functional type had also a significant effect on litter pools. For instance, forests dominated by sclerophyllous tree species had larger litter pools than forests dominated by deciduous and conifer tree species. When other forest structure parameters (i.e. tree basal area, wood production, successional stage, shrub cover and leaf area index) and environmental factors (i.e. mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, annual evapotranspiration and hillside position) where included in the analysis only leaf area index, basal area, wood production and mean temperature influenced litter pools positively. Our analysis emphasizes that at the regional scale, the litter compartment can be as influenced by biodiversity components as by other forest structure and climate components. In mixed forests, species and functional identity of the trees determine whether litter pools increase with tree diversity. © Springer-Verlag 2004.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-646
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2004


  • Climate
  • Mediterranean forests
  • Mixed forests
  • Species diversity


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