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The analysis of spatio-temporal forest changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) indicates habitat-specific levels of fragmentation and area loss

(2015) LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY. 30(2). p.247-259
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Abstract
Spatio-temporal forest changes can have a progressive negative impact on the habitat of species that need forest continuity, i.e. the continuous presence of forest. Long-term species data that demonstrate such an impact are often not available. Instead we applied a spatial analysis on maps of the historical and present-day forests, by calculating landscape indices that explain forest plant species diversity. We digitized for this purpose, forests in Flanders (northern Belgium, similar to 13,500 km2) at four time slices (1775, 1850, 1904-1931, 2000) and created a map of forest continuity in 2000. The ecological relevance of the analysis was further enhanced by a site classification, using a map of potential forest habitat types based on soil-vegetation relationships. Our results indicated that, between 1775 and 2000, forests occupied 9.7-12.2 % of the total study area. If continuity was not taken into consideration, forest fragmentation slightly increased since 1775. However, only 16 % of the forest area in 2000 remained continuously present at least since 1775 and is therefore called ancient forest (AF). Moreover, connectivity of forest that originated after 1775, called recent forest, was low and only 14 % was in physical contact with AF. The results were habitat-specific as forest on sites that are potentially suitable for a high number of slow-colonizing species, e.g. ancient forest plants, were affected most. We discuss that a GIS analysis of this kind is essential to provide statistics for forest biodiversity conservation and restoration, in landscapes with a dynamic and heterogeneous forest cover.
Keywords
USA, COLONIZATION, WOODLANDS, ANCIENT, HISTORY, GIS, LANDSCAPE, Connectivity, Historical ecology, Historical maps, Land-use change, Land-use reconstruction, Landscape metrics, Recovery potential, LAND-USE, PLANT DIVERSITY, DISPERSAL LIMITATION, VEGETATION

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Chicago
De Keersmaeker, Luc, Thierry Onkelinx, Bruno De Vos, Nele Rogiers, Kris Vandekerkhove, Arno Thomaes, An De Schrijver, Martin Hermy, and Kris Verheyen. 2015. “The Analysis of Spatio-temporal Forest Changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) Indicates Habitat-specific Levels of Fragmentation and Area Loss.” Landscape Ecology 30 (2): 247–259.
APA
De Keersmaeker, Luc, Onkelinx, T., De Vos, B., Rogiers, N., Vandekerkhove, K., Thomaes, A., De Schrijver, A., et al. (2015). The analysis of spatio-temporal forest changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) indicates habitat-specific levels of fragmentation and area loss. LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY, 30(2), 247–259.
Vancouver
1.
De Keersmaeker L, Onkelinx T, De Vos B, Rogiers N, Vandekerkhove K, Thomaes A, et al. The analysis of spatio-temporal forest changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) indicates habitat-specific levels of fragmentation and area loss. LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY. 2015;30(2):247–59.
MLA
De Keersmaeker, Luc, Thierry Onkelinx, Bruno De Vos, et al. “The Analysis of Spatio-temporal Forest Changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) Indicates Habitat-specific Levels of Fragmentation and Area Loss.” LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY 30.2 (2015): 247–259. Print.
@article{7160660,
  abstract     = {Spatio-temporal forest changes can have a progressive negative impact on the habitat of species that need forest continuity, i.e. the continuous presence of forest. Long-term species data that demonstrate such an impact are often not available. Instead we applied a spatial analysis on maps of the historical and present-day forests, by calculating landscape indices that explain forest plant species diversity. 
We digitized for this purpose, forests in Flanders (northern Belgium, similar to 13,500 km2) at four time slices (1775, 1850, 1904-1931, 2000) and created a map of forest continuity in 2000. The ecological relevance of the analysis was further enhanced by a site classification, using a map of potential forest habitat types based on soil-vegetation relationships. 
Our results indicated that, between 1775 and 2000, forests occupied 9.7-12.2 \% of the total study area. If continuity was not taken into consideration, forest fragmentation slightly increased since 1775. However, only 16 \% of the forest area in 2000 remained continuously present at least since 1775 and is therefore called ancient forest (AF). Moreover, connectivity of forest that originated after 1775, called recent forest, was low and only 14 \% was in physical contact with AF. The results were habitat-specific as forest on sites that are potentially suitable for a high number of slow-colonizing species, e.g. ancient forest plants, were affected most. 
We discuss that a GIS analysis of this kind is essential to provide statistics for forest biodiversity conservation and restoration, in landscapes with a dynamic and heterogeneous forest cover.},
  author       = {De Keersmaeker, Luc and Onkelinx, Thierry and De Vos, Bruno and Rogiers, Nele and Vandekerkhove, Kris and Thomaes, Arno and De Schrijver, An and Hermy, Martin and Verheyen, Kris},
  issn         = {0921-2973},
  journal      = {LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY},
  keyword      = {USA,COLONIZATION,WOODLANDS,ANCIENT,HISTORY,GIS,LANDSCAPE,Connectivity,Historical ecology,Historical maps,Land-use change,Land-use reconstruction,Landscape metrics,Recovery potential,LAND-USE,PLANT DIVERSITY,DISPERSAL LIMITATION,VEGETATION},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {247--259},
  title        = {The analysis of spatio-temporal forest changes (1775-2000) in Flanders (northern Belgium) indicates habitat-specific levels of fragmentation and area loss},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-014-0119-7},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2015},
}

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