Safeguarding the rare woodland species Gagea spathacea: Understanding habitat requirements is not sufficient

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Andreas Fichtner - , Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Autor:in)
  • Werner Härdtle - , Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Autor:in)
  • Diethart Matthies - , Philipps-Universität Marburg (Autor:in)
  • Volker Arnold - , Museum for Archaeology and Ecology, Albersdorf (Autor:in)
  • Alexandra Erfmeier - , Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) (Autor:in)
  • Tanja Hemke - , Nature Conservation Foundation Kurt und Erika Schrobach-Stiftung, Kiel (Autor:in)
  • Doris Jansen - , Jansen & Rickert, Neumünster (Autor:in)
  • Silke Lütt - , Department of Biodiversity, State Agency for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Flintbek (Autor:in)
  • Marcus Schmidt - , Northwest German Forest Research Station, Department A (Forest Growth), Section Forest Conservation and Natural Forest Research, Göttingen (Autor:in)
  • Knut Sturm - , Naturwald Akademie gGmbH Lübeck (Autor:in)
  • Goddert von Oheimb - , Institut für Allgemeine Ökologie und Umweltschutz, Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig (Autor:in)
  • Bettina Ohse - , Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Autor:in)


A large proportion of temperate forest plant diversity is found in the herb layer. However, for many of its species, little is known about their autecology, which makes it difficult to assess potential threats and efficiently safeguard the diversity of understorey herbaceous communities. This also applies to Gagea spathacea (Liliaceae), a globally rare spring geophyte, which mainly occurs in deciduous forests of northern Central Europe. We investigated the causal relationships between population characteristics of G. spathacea and abiotic site conditions across different forest communities in the center of its distributional range. Leaf length (a surrogate of the species' vegetative propagation) was positively related to soil moisture and soil nitrogen. Consequently, mean leaf length was highest in moist forest communities of the alliance Alno-Ulmion. Moreover, mean variability in leaf length was lowest in those forests, indicating a higher and more stable vegetative propagation via bulbils. We found no support for a significant relationship between leaf length and leaf density or between leaf length and flower formation. Population density varied strongly among forest sites, but was not related to soil moisture and hardly influenced by soil nitrogen. Our results suggest that soil water and nutrient supply play a vital role in determining the species' vegetative propagation, whereas the duration of habitat continuity is most likely an important determinant of population size and density. Conservation strategies therefore require a better understanding of the complex interrelationships between abiotic site conditions and the historical context-dependency of habitats.


Seiten (von - bis)120 - 129
FachzeitschriftPlant Species Biology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2020

Externe IDs

Scopus 85078669829
ORCID /0000-0001-7408-425X/work/146642946