iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Factors affecting the quantity and type of tree-related microhabitats in Mediterranean mountain forests of high nature value

Pasquale A Marziliano (1)   , Serena Antonucci (2), Roberto Tognetti (2), Marco Marchetti (3), Gherardo Chirici (4), Piermaria Corona (5-6), Fabio Lombardi (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 3, Pages 250-259 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3568-014
Published: May 21, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

Tree-related microhabitats (hereafter TreMs) are structures occurring on trees, such as rot holes, cavities, large nests, mould, fruiting bodies and mycelia of decomposer fungi. TreMs have been widely recognized as important substrates and structures useful for biodiversity conservation in forest ecosystems, and they can be used as indicators for describing and monitoring forest naturalness. However, most studies on the occurrence of TreMs have been mainly done in forest ecosystems of Central Europe, while less research has been conducted in Mediterranean mountain forests. In this study, we investigated the diversity and abundance of 23 types of TreMs on living trees and on deadwood in seven Mediterranean mountains unmanaged forests located in the Apennines (Italy). The abundance of TreMs was evaluated by counting the number of TreMs per tree, while the diversity of TreMs was evaluated by means of the Shannon-Wiener index. We focused on the relationships between diversity and abundance of TreMs, and tree size (e.g., diameter, height, volume), and the time since the last harvest. Among the investigated stands, 2612 living trees, 457 standing dead trees and snags, and 1247 lying deadwood pieces were analysed. For living trees, a generalized linear mixed model was applied to test the effect of several variables on the abundance of TreMs per tree. Diameter at breast height (DBH) of tree stems influenced the abundance and diversity of TreMs. The time since the last harvest also significantly affected the probability that TreMs could be formed in a long-term perspective. The interaction of the predictors “DBH2” and “Years since the last harvest” generated a better model than the one in which the two variables were kept separate. Indeed, these two factors together would better represent the transition of a previously managed forest to a more natural state over time. This study might provide useful information to land managers committed to forestry practices towards sustainable management and biodiversity conservation, especially referring to survey and inventory of forests of high nature value.


Biodiversity Indicators, Forest Structure, Old-growth Forests, Tree Microhabitats, Woody Debris

Authors’ address

Pasquale A Marziliano 0000-0003-1327-277X
Fabio Lombardi 0000-0003-3517-5890
Dipartimento di Agraria, Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria (Italy)
Serena Antonucci 0000-0003-2237-2027
Roberto Tognetti 0000-0002-7771-6176
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Ambiente e Alimenti, Università degli Studi del Molise, Campobasso (Italy)
Marco Marchetti 0000-0002-5275-5769
Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio, Università degli Studi del Molise, Pesche, IS (Italy)
Gherardo Chirici 0000-0002-0669-5726
Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)
Piermaria Corona 0000-0002-8105-0792
Dipartimento per l’Innovazione nei Sistemi Biologici, Agroalimentari e Forestali, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo (Italy)
Piermaria Corona 0000-0002-8105-0792
CREA, Centro di Ricerca Foreste e Legno, Arezzo (Italy)

Corresponding author

Pasquale A Marziliano


Marziliano PA, Antonucci S, Tognetti R, Marchetti M, Chirici G, Corona P, Lombardi F (2021). Factors affecting the quantity and type of tree-related microhabitats in Mediterranean mountain forests of high nature value. iForest 14: 250-259. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3568-014

Academic Editor

Michele Carbognani

Paper history

Received: Jul 01, 2020
Accepted: Mar 25, 2021

First online: May 21, 2021
Publication Date: Jun 30, 2021
Publication Time: 1.90 months

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