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Faulty indications? (Journal extracts).

IT IS difficult to judge whether forests are being managed in an ecologically sustainable way and impossible to measure and monitor the effects of forest management practices on all forest species.

Biological indicators or surrogates, are increasingly being used to assess and monitor biodiversity or ecological change. They include species or guilds of species, and structure-based indicators such as the structural complexity of forests, connectivity of fragments and heterogeneity.

But biological indicators have their limitations, according to a review by ecologists Drs David Lindenmayer, Chris Margules and Daniel Botkin.

Other scientists may disagree, but Lindenmayer and his colleagues argue that despite their intuitive appeal, the use of indicator species in conservation management can be misleading or fail altogether.

For example, the virtual elimination of the American chestnut as a dominant canopy tree in the mid-Atlantic forests of the United States, by the 1930s, due to fungal blight, has apparently led to no extinctions or grave threat to survival of other species, including the chestnut-eating gray squirrel.

The scientists suggest an urgent need to test relationships between the presence and abundance of potential indicator species and other species or ecological processes, before we rely on them. In the meantime, they believe that structure-based (spatial) indicators make better indicators of biodiversity in forests.

They also advocate an adaptive management approach in which ongoing forest management practices, such as logging, are treated as large-scale experiments from which managers can gain further knowledge and so improve the effectiveness and sustainability of management strategies.

Lindenmayer DB AAargutes CR and Botkin DB (2000) Indicators of biodiversity for ecologically sustainable forest management. Conservation Biology, 14:941-950.
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Title Annotation:effects of forest management considered
Author:Davidson, Steve
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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