Functional diversity response to hardwood forest management varies across taxa and spatial scales
Contemporary forest management offers a trade-off between the potential positive effects of habitat heterogeneity on biodiversity, and the potential harm to mature forest communities caused by habitat loss and perforation of the forest canopy. While the response of taxonomic diversity to forest management has received a great deal of scrutiny, the response of functional diversity is largely unexplored. However, functional diversity may represent a more direct link between biodiversity and ecosystem function. To examine how forest management affects diversity at multiple spatial scales, we analyzed a long-term data set that captured changes in taxonomic and functional diversity of moths (Lepidoptera), longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), and breeding birds in response to contemporary silvicultural systems in oak–hickory hardwood forests. We used these data sets to address the following questions: how do even- and uneven-aged silvicultural systems affect taxonomic and functional diversity at the scale of managed landscapes compared to the individual harvested and unharvested forest patches that comprise the landscapes, and how do these silvicultural systems affect the functional similarity of assemblages at the scale of managed landscapes and patches? Due to increased heterogeneity within landscapes, we expected even-aged silviculture to increase and uneven-aged silviculture to decrease functional diversity at the landscape level regardless of impacts at the patch level. Functional diversity responses were taxon-specific with respect to the direction of change and time since harvest. Responses were also consistent across patch and landscape levels within each taxon. Moth assemblage species richness, functional richness, and functional divergence were negatively affected by harvesting, with stronger effects resulting from uneven-aged than even-aged management. Longhorned beetle assemblages exhibited a peak in species richness two years after harvesting, while functional diversity metrics did not differ between harvested and unharvested patches and managed landscapes. The species and functional richness of breeding bird assemblages increased in response to harvesting with more persistent effects in uneven- than in even-aged managed landscapes. For moth and bird assemblages, species turnover was driven by species with more extreme trait combinations. Our study highlights the variability of multi-taxon functional diversity in response to forest management across multiple spatial scales.