Margot Vanhellemont

Margot Vanhellemont
Ghent University | UGhent · Department of Environment

About

84
Publications
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Introduction

Publications

Publications (84)
Article
Full-text available
Background and aim Excess soil phosphorus often constrains ecological restoration of degraded semi-natural grasslands in Western-Europe. Slow-growing species, often target of restoration (measures), are at a disadvantage because they are outcompeted by fast-growing species. Gaining insight into the responses of plant species and communities to soil...
Article
Biodiversity is declining at a rapid pace and, with it, the ecosystem functions that support ecosystem services. To counter this, ecosystem restoration is necessary. While the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been studied in depth, the relationship between ecosystem restoration and ecosystem functioning is studied les...
Article
The global role of tree-based climate change mitigation is widely recognized; trees sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon, and woody biomass has an important role in the future biobased economy. In national carbon and biomass budgets, trees growing in hedgerows and tree rows are often allocated the same biomass increment data as forest-grow...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Het herstel van heischrale graslanden (prioritair habitattype H6230*) op voormalige landbouwbodems geeft vaak teleurstellende resultaten door abiotische en biotische knelpunten. Abiotisch is vooral fosfor een probleem. Fosfor is persistent in de bodem en hoge concentraties hebben een negatief effect op de plantensoortenrijkdom en vooral op traaggro...
Article
Large-scale biodiversity loss is one of the most urgent global issues. The Convention on Biological Diversity created a vision to ecologically restore ecosystems by 2050. The European Union follows this ambition, and member states are required to select Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to develop and restore; one example is species-rich semi-na...
Article
Aims The restoration of degraded ecosystems typically focuses on establishing assemblages of target species, but successful recovery should also be evaluated by the ecosystem’s functioning to guarantee long-term persistence. We investigated how the processes underlying community assembly (i.e. species loss, species gain and changes in abundance of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background and aim Excess soil phosphorus often constrains ecological restoration of degraded semi-natural grasslands in Western-Europe. Slow-growing species, often target for restoration, are at a disadvantage because they are outcompeted by fast-growing species. Gaining insight into the responses of plant species and communities to soil phosphoru...
Article
Full-text available
The restoration of Nardus grasslands is often hampered by high bioavailability of soil phosphorus and disturbed soil communities. In order to better understand these bottlenecks, we studied Nardus grassland species grown together in communities with fast-growing species in 50-liter pots along a gradient of bioavailable phosphorus with or without in...
Article
In nature reserve Gulke Putten a management of mowing and hay removal on former agricultural fields with high soil phosphorus concentrations has resulted in a shift from grass-dominated to herb-rich vegetation. Species such as Cardamine pratensis, Leucanthemum vulgare, Centaurea jacea, Ranunculus acris and Trifolium pratense have replaced fast-grow...
Article
Full-text available
Aims To restore species-rich grasslands on former agricultural land, typically phosphorus-poor soil conditions need to be re-established. Here we assess the potential of phosphorus extraction by biomass production, i.e. phytomining. We compare two techniques: (i) ‘mowing’, i.e. cutting and removing hay two or three times a year, and (ii) ‘P-mining’...
Article
Full-text available
In the published version, the author names were presented incorrectly. The forenames and surnames were switched for everyone, except for Michael P Perring.
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic activities have affected forests for centuries, leading to persistent legacies. Observations of agricultural legacies on forest soil properties have been site specific and contrasting. Sites and regions vary along gradients in intrinsic soil characteristics, phosphorus (P) management and nitrogen (N) deposition which could affect the...
Article
Land-use legacies are important for explaining present-day ecological patterns and processes. However, an overarching approach to quantify land-use history effects on ecosystem properties is lacking, mainly due to the scarcity of high-quality, complete and detailed data on past land use. We propose a general framework for quantifying the effects of...
Article
Full-text available
The soil microbial community is essential for maintaining ecosystem functioning and is intimately linked with the plant community. Yet, little is known on how soil microbial communities in the root zone vary at continental scales within plant species. Here we assess the effects of soil chemistry, large-scale environmental conditions (i.e. temperatu...
Article
In order to understand the relationship between tree diversity and forest productivity, it is crucial to understand what is going on at the level of individual trees, since each tree responds to the prevailing environmental conditions and interacts with his neighbours. We explored tree interactions in 53 forest plots in northern Belgium (TREEWEB pl...
Article
Forecasting the growth of tree species to future environmental changes requires a better understanding of its determinants. Tree growth is known to respond to global‐change drivers such as climate change or atmospheric deposition, as well as to local land‐use drivers such as forest management. Yet, large geographical‐scale studies examining interac...
Article
Purpose: Droughts are expected to become more intense and frequent. Mixed forests can be more resilient to extreme events, but are the individual trees in mixed forests also more resilient to drought? Methods: We sampled 275 trees in 53 temperate forest stands in northern Belgium: monocultures, two-species mixtures, and the three-species mixture...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims Tree species effects on biogeochemical cycles are well studied, but the interactive effects of tree species in mixtures remain poorly understood. We studied how tree species identity and species diversity affect nutrient cycling in mature forests. Methods In a Belgian platform of 53 forest plots varying in tree species diversit...
Article
Full-text available
Temperate forests across Europe and eastern North America have become denser since the 1950s due to less intensive forest management and global environmental changes such as nitrogen deposition and climate warming. Denser tree canopies result in lower light availability at the forest floor. This shade may buffer the effects of nitrogen deposition a...
Article
Woody networks of hedgerows, tree lines and forest patches can harbour a high biodiversity and may serve as an important species refuge in agricultural landscapes. In order to protect the biodiversity and associated potential ecosystem services of woody networks, we need to understand their drivers. We surveyed the plant diversity and calculated th...
Article
TreeDivNet is the largest network of biodiversity experiments worldwide, but needs to expand. We encourage colleagues to establish new experiments on the relation between tree species diversity and forest ecosystem functioning, and to make use of the platform for collaborative research.
Article
The effects of mixing tree species on tree growth and stand production have been abundantly studied, mostly looking at tree species diversity effects while controlling for stand density and structure. Regarding the shift towards managing forests as complex adaptive systems, we also need insight into the effects of structural diversity. Strict fores...
Article
Full-text available
Early regeneration is a critical life stage that affects the future species composition of forests. Knowledge about regeneration success under different environmental conditions allows better understanding of forest dynamics. We studied the effects of seedbed conditions on the establishment and performance of seedlings of pedunculate oak, beech and...
Article
Despite considerable research demonstrating that biodiversity increases productivity in forests and regulates herbivory and pathogen damage, there remain gaps in our understanding of the shape, magnitude, and generality of these biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationships. Here, we review findings from TreeDivNet, a global network of 25...
Article
TreeDivNet is the largest network of biodiversity experiments worldwide, but needs to expand. We encourage colleagues to establish new experiments on the relation between tree species diversity and forest ecosystem functioning, and to make use of the platform for collaborative research.
Article
Full-text available
Background & aim – In general, biodiversity has positive effects on ecosystem functioning. In forests, understorey vegetation is influenced by both the composition and species richness of the overstorey through species-specific effects on environmental conditions at the forest floor. Forest fragmentation is also known to influence understorey veget...
Article
Growth release analysis on tree rings can be used to validate forest disturbances from the known past or reconstruct those beyond the time line or resolution of documentary evidence. Differences in ring-width measurements may result in incorrect disturbance reconstruction. Yet, little is known about how growth release detection is influenced by the...
Article
Mixing different tree species in forest plantations might increase stand productivity and resilience compared to monocultures, but mixing effects in the early stage of mixed forest plantations are still poorly understood. In general, sapling growth is affected by environmental factors, sapling species identity, direct and indirect interactions with...
Article
Full-text available
The area of forest plantations is increasing worldwide helping to meet timber demand and protect natural forests. However, with global change, monospecific plantations are increasingly vulnerable to abiotic and biotic disturbances. As an adaption measure we need to move to plantations that are more diverse in genotypes, species, and structure, with...
Article
The conversion of homogeneous plantations of conifers to mixed or broadleaved forests is part of sustainable forest management strategies in Western Europe. For the conversion of pine plantations on sandy soils, birch seems a convenient choice. Yet, thus far, little is known about the growth of mature birches outside Northern Europe. We sampled 32...
Article
Full-text available
Mixed forest with multiple tree species is expected to create heterogeneous habitat and diverse niches for the canopy arthropod community. We assessed arthropod abundance, order richness, and community composition in the crowns of saplings of nine temperate tree species in two plantations of a recently established tree diversity experiment in Belgi...
Article
Full-text available
Mixing of complementary tree species may increase stand productivity, mitigate the effects of drought and other risks, and pave the way to forest production systems which may be more resource-use efficient and stable in the face of climate change. However, systematic empirical studies on mixing effects are still missing for many commercially import...
Article
Background and aims – Phenological responses to environmental cues are known to be phylogenetically conserved across species, but the adaptive nature of phenological responses to the local environment within the populations of individual species needs further exploration. In temperate forests, the canopy green up timing is expected to act selective...
Article
The forest herb layer provides a multitude of ecosystem services as a result of its species-rich character. Herb layer diversity and biomass are both influenced by tree layer composition and species richness through species-specific influences on environmental conditions. The results of observational studies on richness–biomass relationships betwee...
Article
Invasive species may escape the enemies from their native range (‘enemy release’), but they can also acquire new enemies in their introduced range, which will affect the invasion process. For the invasive tree species Prunus serotina, seed predation by the native weevil Furcipus rectirostris has been reported in forests in its introduced range. In...
Article
The understorey fulfils many important ecosystem services, such as mediation of carbon dynamics, provision of habitats, and it contains most of the plant diversity in forest ecosystems. Changes in the overstorey diversity may affect understorey diversity as trees have a species-specific impact on resource availability and soil conditions that influ...
Article
Background and aims - A renewed interest in the functional role and dynamics of forest understorey plant communities has lead to an increasing number of publications that present the results of understorey resurveys. However, studies looking at the possible causes of temporal changes in the understorey often lack data on soil and tree layer conditi...
Article
and aims - A renewed interest in the functional role and dynamics of forest understorey plant communities has lead to an increasing number of publications that present the results of understorey resurveys. However, studies looking at the possible causes of temporal changes in the understorey often lack data on soil and tree layer conditions for the...
Article
During the last two decades, functional biodiversity research has provided strong support for the hypothesis that more biodiverse ecosystems have the potential to deliver more and better services. However, most empirical support for this hypothesis comes from simple structured communities that are relatively easy to manipulate. The impact of forest...
Article
The identity and composition of the overstorey trees can have large impacts on the understorey vegetation in temperate forests. Here, we assess the effects of the conversion of mixed deciduous forests to Norway spruce (Picea abies) plantations on the understorey vegetation composition and diversity. We also investigated whether the effects of this...
Article
In order to get a better understanding of the importance of vertical forest structure as a component of Ixodes ricinus tick habitat, an experiment was set up in a coniferous forest on sandy soils in northern Belgium. Ticks were sampled in six control and six treatment plots on various sampling occasions in 2008-2010. In the course of the study peri...
Article
A large fraction of the forests in northern Belgium consists of homogeneous pine stands on nutrient-poor and acid sandy soils. However, in common with many other parts of Europe, the current forest management aims at increasing the share of deciduous and mixed forests. This might create favourable habitats for the tick Ixodes ricinus, which is Euro...
Article
The colonization rates of understorey plants into forests growing on former agricultural land differ remarkably among species. Different dispersal and recruitment largely account for the contrasting colonization rates, but different effects of the soil legacies of former agricultural land use on plant performance may also play a role. Seven herbace...
Article
The spread of invasive tree species in forests can be slow because of their long life span and the lag phases that may occur during the invasion process. Models of forest succession are a useful tool to explore how these invasive species might affect long-term forest development. We used the spatially explicit individual tree model SORTIE-ND to gai...
Article
Estimating the spatial and temporal variation in tick abundance is of great economical and ecological importance. Entire-blanket dragging is the most widely used method to sample free-living ixodid ticks. However, this technique is not equally efficient in different vegetation types. The height and structure of the vegetation under study will not o...
Article
Introduction To increase our understanding of litterfall dynamics in mixed-species forests, seasonal and annual variations in litterfall mass and nutrient concentrations were assessed for a 60-year-old spontaneously developed forest dominated by silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.), and northern red oak (Quercus ru...
Article
Land-use history can have large effects on the different life stages and demography of forest plant species. Here we studied how the legacies of former land use in post-agricultural forests, and increased phosphorus (P) availability in particular, may alter the germinability and seed quantity in populations of the forest herbs Primula elatior and G...
Article
The early phases of plant colonization after the abandonment of agricultural land are a crucial starting point for a suite of successional mechanisms, such as priority effects, facilitation, and inhibition. Therefore, the first years of vegetation development substantially shape the trajectory of future vegetation recovery on former agricultural si...
Article
We measured LHS traits in 41 Anemone nemorosa and 44 Milium effusum populations along a 1900-2300 km latitudinal gradient from N France to N Sweden. We then applied multilevel models to identify the effects of regional (temperature, latitude) and local (soil fertility and acidity, overstorey canopy cover) environmental factors on LHS traits. Both s...
Article
Prunus serotina is an invasive species that causes problems mainly in pine forests on sandy soils in Western Europe. Thus far, there have been almost no studies considering the diameter growth of P. serotina in its introduced range. We analysed the radial growth of P. serotina in seven Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) plantations in Flanders (Belgium)...
Article
Full-text available
The differential ability of forest herbs to colonize secondary forests on former agricultural land is generally attributed to different rates of dispersal. After propagule arrival, however, establishing individuals still have to cope with abiotic soil legacies from former agricultural land use. We focused on the plastic responses of forest herbs to...
Article
Begrazing is een mogelijke beheermaatregel bij de bestrijding van invasieve exoten. Een groot probleem daarbij is dat vaak de inheemse soorten preferentieel worden begraasd, en begrazing op zich zal dan ook zelden volstaan om een invasieve soort te bestrijden.
Article
We studied the regeneration dynamics of the semi-shade-tolerant invasive tree species Prunus serotina in the understory of 7 pine stands in its introduced range for 4 y, focusing on temporal, spatial, and spatiotemporal patterns. In each 20-× 40-m study plot, we inventoried all trees and shrubs taller than 1 m, counted seedlings in 3 age-height cla...
Article
Full-text available
Since most studies on Prunusserotina in Western Europe focused on heavily invaded areas, we wondered whether P.serotina also acts as an aggressive invader in areas with a low propagule pressure. Based on long-term data for the Liedekerke forest reserve, we found that connectivity to seed sources and light availability were the major drivers of P.se...
Article
Propagule pressure and disturbance have both been found to facilitate invasion. Therefore, knowledge on the history of introduction and disturbance is vital for understanding an invasion process, and research should focus on areas in which the invasive species has not been deliberately introduced or managed to study unconfounded colonization patter...
Article
Full-text available
Prunus serotina, a North American tree species, is considered one of the 100 worst invaders in Europe. Although an increasing number of studies has focused on P. serotina in Europe, several aspects of the species have remained unstudied. Moreover, most studies focused on heavily invaded areas. We wanted to gain insight into the radial growth and th...
Article
Prunus serotina, a North-American tree species, is considered an aggressive invasive species in Western Europe. Opposite to prior studies, which focused mostly on areas heavily invaded by P. serotina, we studied long-term (70 years) forest development in two forest reserves in areas with a low propagule pressure: the forest reserves Liedekerke (Bel...