Microclimate and matter dynamics in transition zones of forest to arable land

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Abstract

Human-driven fragmentation of landscapes leads to the formation of transition zones between ecosystems that are characterised by fluxes of matter, energy and information. These transition zones may offer rather inhospitable habitats that could jeopardise biodiversity. On the other hand, transition zones are also reported to be hotspots for biodiversity and even evolutionary processes. The general mechanisms and influence of processes in transition zones are poorly understood. Although heterogeneity and diversity of land use of fragments and the transition zones between them play an important role, most studies only refer to forested transition zones. Often, only an extrapolation of measurements in the different fragments themselves is reported to determine gradients in transition zones. In this article, we analyse environmental gradients and their effects on biota and matter dynamics along transects between managed continental temperate forests and agricultural land for one year. Accordingly, we found S-shaped microclimatic gradients in transition zones of 50–80 m between arable lands and forests. Aboveground biomass was lower within 65 m of the transition zone, 30 m in the arable land and 35 m in the forest. Soil carbon and nitrogen contents were elevated close to the transition zone's zero line. This paper contributes to a quantitative understanding of agricultural landscapes beyond individual ecotopes, and towards connected ecosystem mosaics that may be beneficial for the provision of ecosystem services.

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Schmidt, M., Lischeid, G., & Nendel, C. (2019). Microclimate and matter dynamics in transition zones of forest to arable land. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 268, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.01.001

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