What is forest biodiversity ?
It is often said that forests are a major reservoir of biodiversity for the planet. We hear more and more about biodiversity, but we don't necessarily realise the extent of what it covers. Well, biodiversity is not the only the diversity of living organisms found in forests and their functions, but also the diversity of forest ecosystems.
The diversity of living things
Biodiversity in a forest is first and foremost the biological diversity of living beings, which can be observed at several levels: from the genetic variants of the same species, to the different ranges of species, genera and families of all the living beings present in the forest: plants, animals, fungi and unicellular organisms ... Species diversity, which is the first thing we think of is therefore ont of the forms of biodiversity.
Biodiversity can also be seen in terms of the diversity of ecosystems: these are made up of a community of interdependent animal and plant organisms living in an ecologically homogenous area, with their own functioning and dynamics. We are therefore talking here not only about specific habitats, but also about all the physical conditions that prevail there (soil and climate in particular).
The functional diversity of living organisms
We can add the dimension of functional diversity, if we consider the wide variety of functions performed by the different groups of species present in forest ecosystems. In a forest soil, for example, certain animals such as insects and earthworms will not only decompose fallen leaves to bring nutrients to the soil, but will also help to structure the soil so that it can be aerated, drained to ensure a good water supply and facilitate the exporation of tree roots in search of nutrients and water present in the soil. This function performed by living organisms in the soil is necessary for tree growth, and is just one example, among many, of the biological interactions essential to trees.
In our next articles, we'll look at the main interactions between species that favour trees, to promote natural regeneration, growth and productivity, as well as protection against various external stresses. We will also look at how we can measure the biodiversity potential of a forest, so that we can take it into account in forest management and adjust the guidelines for preserving biological diversity.