Spatial variation in human disturbances and their effects on forest structure and biodiversity across an Afromontane forest

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


  • Dinkissa Beche
  • Ayco Tack
  • Sileshi Nemomissa
  • Bikila Warkineh
  • Debissa Lemessa
  • Patricia Rodrigues
  • Joern Fischer
  • Kristoffer Hylander

Context: Human disturbances can have large impacts on forest structure and biodiversity, and thereby result in forest degradation, a property difficult to detect by remote sensing. Objectives: To investigate spatial variation in anthropogenic disturbances and their effects on forest structure and biodiversity. Methods: In 144 plots of 20 × 20 m distributed across a forest area of 750 km2 in Southwest Ethiopia, we recorded: landscape variables (e.g., distance to forest edge), different human disturbances, forest structure variables, and species composition of trees and epiphyllous bryophytes. We then first assessed if landscape variables could explain the spatial distribution of disturbances. Second, we analysed how forest structure and biodiversity were influenced by disturbances. Results: Human disturbances, such as coffee management and grazing declined with distance to forest edges, and penetrated at least a kilometer into the forest. Slope was not related to disturbance levels, but several types of disturbances were less common at higher elevations. Among human disturbance types, coffee management reduced liana cover and was associated with altered species composition of trees. The presence of large trees and basal area were not related to any of the disturbance gradients. Conclusions: Although most anthropogenic disturbances displayed clear edge effects, surprisingly the variation in the chosen forest degradation indices were only weakly related to these disturbances. We suggest that the intersection between edge effects and forest degradation is very context specific and relies much on how particular societies use the forests. For example, in this landscape coffee management seems to be a key driver.

ZeitschriftLandscape Ecology
Seiten (von - bis)493-510
Anzahl der Seiten18
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.02.2022

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council (Grant No. VR2015-03600 to KH). We thank the Oromia regional state and local administrations for providing us permits to work in the forest. We also thank Raya Aba Oli, Chala Sori and Tegegn Tiki for their unreserved assistance and local farmers for their guidance during data collection .

Funding Information:
The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council (to KH).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.