All the partners met in Toulouse (France), on November 20th to 22th, for the smallFOREST General Assembly. During this annual meeting, they drew up a review of this second year of work and planned the work to do next :
In a first part of the project (WP1), all forest patches in the sixteen landscape windows across Europe (eight regions, two windows per region, representing low- vs. high-disturbance landscapes) have been intensively surveyed for vascular plants in order to quantify the relative importance of local, landscape and global drivers in determining local herb species diversity of these forest fragments. Contrary to previous studies highlighting an important role of global climatic variables for plant diversity, we found that landscape attributes like the amount of forest and grassland around the fragment, and especially local variables like age or heterogeneity of the fragment determined most of the variation observed in plant diversity in these small forest fragments. Older fragments showed higher diversity of forest specialist herbs, while generalist herbs were more influenced by landscape composition around the fragment, being favored by a higher presence of grasslands. These results emphasize the importance of maintaining networks of small forest fragments in agricultural landscapes for the conservation of forest flora, and also evidence the importance of the landscape context around these fragments.