There is a trade‑off between forest productivity and animal biodiversity in Europe

Calyne N. Khamila, T.A. Groen*, A.G. Toxopeus, Luca Santini, Matthias Neumann, Chris van Swaay, Henk Sierdsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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While forest productivity and biodiversity are expected to be correlated, prioritizing either forest productivity or biodiversity can result in different management. Spatial quantification of the congruence between areas suitable for either one can inform planning. Here we quantify the relationship between net primary productivity of European forests and biodiversity of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies both separately and in combination, and map their spatial congruence. We used richness maps obtained by stacking species distribution models for these animal species, and average net primary production from 2000 to 2012 using moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. We tested how biodiversity and primary productivity are correlated and quantified the spatial congruence of these two sources. We show the areas where high or low productivity co-occur with high or low biodiversity using a quantile-based overlay analysis. Productivity was positively correlated to overall biodiversity and mammal, herptile and butterfly biodiversity, but biodiversity of birds showed a weak negative correlation. There were no significant differences in the strength of relationship across species groups, while herptiles had stronger relationships with productivity compared to other groups. Overlap analysis revealed significant spatial overlap between productivity and biodiversity in all species groups, except for birds. High value areas for both productivity and biodiversity in all species groups, except birds, co-occurred in the Mediterranean and temperate regions. The areas with high biodiversity of birds are mainly found in the boreal areas of Europe, while for all other species groups these areas are mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula and the Balkan ranges. Based on the presented maps, areas where regulating wood production activities to conserve species can be identified. But the maps also help to identify areas where either biodiversity or productivity is high and focusing on just one aspect is more straightforward
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1879-1899
Number of pages21
JournalBiodiversity and conservation
Issue number6
Early online date28 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


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