On the structural complexity of central European agroforestry systems: a quantitative assessment using terrestrial laser scanning in single-scan mode

Seidel, Dominik
Stiers, Melissa
Ehbrecht, Martin
Werning, Maik
Annighöfer, Peter
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Springer Nature
Agroforestry systems provide important ecosystem functions and services. They have the potential to enrich agricultural monocultures in central Europe with structural elements otherwise absent, which is expected to be accompanied by a surplus of ecosystem functions. Here we used quantitative measures derived from terrestrial laser scanning in single-scan mode to describe the structural complexity, the canopy openness, the foliage height diversity and the understory complexity of four common agroforest systems in central Europe. We accessed silvopasture systems with grazing ponies and cattle as well as fellow deer, short rotation forests with agricultural use between the tree rows, tree orchards with grazing sheep and Christmas tree plantations on which chickens forage. As a reference, we used data for 65 forest sites across Germany, representing different forest types, various dominant tree species, stand ages and management systems. We found that overall stand structural complexity is ranked as follows: forest > silvopasture systems > short rotation forest > tree orchard > Christmas tree plantation. Consequently, if overall structural complexity of an agricultural landscape shall be enriched, there is now strong evidence on how this may be achieved using agroforests. However, if the focus lies on selected structures that serve specific functions, e.g. dense understory to provide animal shelter, specific types of agroforests may be chosen and the ranking in overall structural complexity may be less important.
Acknowledgements: The help of Maria Hollmann and Anna-Jurina Finkenstaedt during planning and scanning is much appreciated. We thank the managers of the three Exploratories, Kirsten Reichel-Jung, Swen Renner, Katrin Hartwich, Sonja Gockel, Kerstin Wiesner, and Martin Gorke for their work in maintaining the plot and project infrastructure; Christiane Fischer and Simone Pfeiffer for giving support through the central office, Michael Owonibi for managing the central data base, and Markus Fischer, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Jens Nieschulze, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, François Buscot, Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Wolfgang W. Weisser and the late Elisabeth Kalko for their role in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project. © The Author(s) 2021. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agroforestry Systems, 2021, available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10457-021-00620-y . Keywords: terrestrial laser scanning; short rotation coppice; agroforestry; LiDAR; single-scan; Europe; Germany.
Seidel, D., Stiers, M., Ehbrecht, M., Werning, M., & Annighöfer, P. (2021). On the structural complexity of central European agroforestry systems: a quantitative assessment using terrestrial laser scanning in single-scan mode. Agroforestry Systems, 95, 669–685. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-021-00620-y