The FunDivEUROPE Exploratory Platform is a newly designed network of comparative plots established in existing mature forest. It serves as a hypothesis driven network of study sites specifically designed to elucidate the relationships between forest biodiversity and a wide range of ecosystem functions and services at the landscape scale. The platform covers six focal regions representing important European forest types along the gradient from boreal forest to Mediterranean forest. Working in existing forests and in several forest types maximizes the representativeness of the platform. Within each region, a fixed species pool of three to five species forms the backbone of the network of plots that differ primarily in tree species richness. The variation in species richness and composition are to a large extent controlled by management or result from randomness, minimizing the influence of other, confounding factors on the studied functions and services. Every tree species is included as monoculture and is present in many but not all the species combinations, i.e. strictly avoiding a complete dilution design. The basic philosophy of the platform is to characterize a wide array of functions in each of the 209 plots using fast proxy measurements. This approach will result in a comprehensive database of functions ranging from fine root production to mammalian and insect herbivory.
by Lander Baeten, Ghent University