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  • 1 Institute of Ecology and Botany, Alkotmány u. 2-4. H-2163 Vácrátót, Hungary
  • | 2 Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • | 3 GINOP Sustainable Ecosystems Research Group, Klebelsberg u. 3. H-8237 Tihany, Hungary
  • | 4 University of Sopron, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 4, H-9400 Sopron, Hungary
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Dry oak forests have one of the richest understory vegetation in Europe, but the environmental drivers of this community have been scarcely revealed. In this study, we assessed whether the amount of light, soil pH or stand heterogeneity affect primarily the species composition of this community. We investigaed 332 sampling plots in 40-165 year old managed and abandoned Quercus cerris and Q. petraea dominated forests in North Hungary. Presence-absence data of herbaceous species and seedlings of woody species were recorded in 28 subplots within each sampling plot. Stand structure, canopy openness and soil pH were also measured in each plot. The relationships between stand characteristics and the species assemblage were explored by redundancy analysis, while the individual responses of species and species groups were studied by generalized linear mixed models. Multivariate methods and individual species response analyses provided similar results, the amount of light and soil pH were equally important variables (both of them explained 2.8% of species variance), while stand heterogeneity had a bit lower, albeit still significant role in determining understory species composition (1.9% of species variance explained). Seedlings of woody species preferred shaded (half-shaded) conditions, while many herbaceous species were positively related to light. The effect of the three explanatory variables was hard to separate, since they influenced each other as well. Sessile oak seedlings and herbs typical of dry forests, forest edges, grasslands and acidic soil habitats preferred light rich habitats with homogeneous stand structure and low soil pH. Mesic forest herbs and seedlings of other woody species were related to relatively high soil pH, heterogeneous stand structure and closed canopy. These two understory types were clearly separated regarding composition. This study emphasizes the importance of heterogenous light conditions and mosaic, diverse forest structure (presence of homogeneous and heterogeneous forest patches) during forest management for the maintenance of understory biodiversity.

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Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)


Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN



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Community Ecology
Language English
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Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)