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The effects of large-scale forest disturbances on hydrology : an overview with special emphasis on karst aquifer systems
Urša Vilhar, Janez Kermavnar, Erika Kozamernik, Metka Petrič, Nataša Ravbar, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Large-scale forest disturbances (LSFD) are an essential component of forest ecosystem dynamics. The effects of rapid loss of forest cover and other changes in forest ecosystems are inextricably linked to hydrologic processes such as evapotranspiration, soil and recharge processes. Among all hydrogeological systems, karst aquifers are important because of their exceptionally rich and unique biodiversity, biomass, and groundwater resources. At the same time, they are characterized by specific hydrological processes that make them highly vulnerable to environmental changes. Therefore, this study paid special attention to the effects of LSFD on karst hydrology. Using the PRISMA checklist, a thorough literature review of studies published between 2001 and 2020 was compiled into a comprehensive matrix dataset. In addition, an initial assessment of the global and regional distribution of forests on carbonate rocks was made based on publicly available geodatabases of forests and karst aquifers. The compiled information provides the first global overview of hydrological processes affected by LSFD, and identifies important knowledge gaps and future research challenges. The matrix dataset contained 117 full-text articles with a total of 160 case studies. Most publications were from 2011 to 2017, with more than half of the studies at the plot level and more than one-third at the catchment level. Studies on the effects of fires and pest and diseases infestations predominated. However, no articles were found on the effects of ice storms on hydrology in general or on the effects of pest and disease infestations on hydrology in karst areas. Of the 45.6 M km2 of forested land worldwide, 6.3 M km2 or 13.9% of all forests are underlain by carbonate rocks. Carbonate rocks cover about 15% of the land surface, which means that 31.3% of the world's karst aquifers are covered by forest. 29% of all case studies were conducted in karst areas, which is a high proportion compared to the proportion of forests in karst areas. However, these studies are unevenly distributed geographically. Most studies were conducted at the plot level, and only 21% of studies focused on natural LSFD, so forest management and land use change studies predominated. Although studies on the effects of LSFD on evapotranspiration processes between vegetation, air and soil are fairly well represented, infiltration and recharge processes in karst areas remain poorly understood and knowledge is lacking, particularly on groundwater flow and related hydrological processes. Regional studies and impacts on groundwater resources are also insufficient. The results indicate an urgent need for an integrated holistic interdisciplinary approach and a comprehensive understanding of the individual influencing factors, which would allow more accurate modelling of hydrological processes in forested karst aquifers.
Keywords: natural disasters, climatic changes, evapotranspiration, hydrology, karst aquifers
Published in DiRROS: 19.05.2023; Views: 114; Downloads: 53
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New records and noteworthy data of plants, algae and fungi in SE Europe and adjacent regions, 11
Marko S. Sabovljević, Gordana Tomović, Marjan Niketić, Teodor T. Denchev, Cvetomir M. Denchev, Aneta D. Sabovljević, Sorin Stefanut, Gabriela Tamas, Zbigniew Szeląg, Boris Assyov, Lado Kutnar, Janez Kermavnar, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: This paper presents new records and noteworthy data on the following taxa in SE Europe and adjacent regions: red algae Sheathia confusa, parasitic fungus Anthracoidea caryophylleae, mycorrhizal fugus Hydnellum caeruleum, bryoparasitic fungus Octospora erzbergeri, liverwort Cephaloziella baumgartneri, mosses Hamatocaulis vernicosus, Streblotrichum convolutum var. commutatum and Ulota crispula, monocots Ophrys bertolonii subsp. bertolonii, Ophrys scolopax subsp. cornuta and Spiranthes spiralis and dicots Androsace hedraeantha, Hieracium mrazii, Ramonda nathaliae and Triglochin palustris are given within SE Europe and adjacent regions
Published in DiRROS: 25.04.2023; Views: 253; Downloads: 57
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Stable isotope composition in tree rings of Fagus sylvatica L. saplings reflects environmental variation induced by silviculture and microsite factors
Janez Kermavnar, Tom Levanič, Lado Kutnar, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Natural regeneration of tree species is sensitive to silvicultural interventions. This study aimed to investigate the effects of different cutting intensities and local topographic and soil conditions on the composition of stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotopes in wood of young beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) trees. Beech saplings in the regeneration layer were sampled in summer 2018 at three study sites in Dinaric fir-beech forests in the karst area of Slovenia. Three different cutting intensities were performed in 2012: i) no cutting (control), ii) 50% cutting of the stand’s growing stock creating thinned stands, and iii) 100% cutting of the stand’s growing stock creating 0.4 ha canopy gaps. We show that δ13C increased along the gradient of cutting intensity. On average, δ13C values in the tree rings were ∼ 2‰ increased in trees from canopy gaps than from closed control stands. Furthermore, δ13C was higher on south-facing slopes characterized by higher air temperatures and lower relative humidity compared to north-facing slopes of karst sinkholes. Additionally, the results suggest a dependence of δ18O on interannual and cross-site climatic variations, particularly in the case of summer precipitation amount. δ18O also responded to soil depth, with beech individuals exhibiting lower values on deeper soils, presumably characterized by higher soil water availability compared to shallow soils. The results are discussed in the context of future climate change, as many beech-dominated forests on karst terrain in the Dinaric Mountains are particularly affected by climate warming and drying due to prolonged and reoccurring summer droughts, intensified large-scale disturbances, and often shallow soils with low water storage capacity.
Keywords: stable carbon isotopes, stable oxygen isotopes, tree cutting, microclimate, drought stress, dinaric fir-beech forests
Published in DiRROS: 05.04.2023; Views: 549; Downloads: 81
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Bryophyte diversity, composition and functional traits in relation to bedrock and tree species composition in close-to-nature managed forests
Lado Kutnar, Janez Kermavnar, Marko S. Sabovljević, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Bryophytes respond to a variety of environmental factors, including tree species composition and geological conditions, which are influenced by both natural and anthropogenic factors. Bryophytes growing on a variety of substrates were identified in ICP Forests monitoring plots in a wide range of close-to-nature managed forests, from lowland to high mountain areas in Slovenia. Based on data on tree layer composition (broadleaves vs. conifers) and on bedrock and soil type (calcareous vs. siliceous bedrock), all study plots were classified into five groups representing forest types. Different ordination analyses and statistical tests were used to represent differences between forest types in bryophyte composition, richness and functional traits. Almost 200 bryophyte species were identified in managed forests, with the most common being Hypnum cupressiforme, Brachytheciastrum velutinum and Polytrichum formosum. Bryophyte species composition varied considerably along the tree species composition and edaphic gradients represented by the selected forest types. Bryophyte species richness was significantly higher on calcareous bedrock than on siliceous bedrock. The higher occurrence of rocks on the ground surface may significantly increase the availability of various microhabitats for bryophytes. Bedrock had a significant influence on the functional diversity and composition of bryophytes, while tree species composition had less influence. Bedrock and tree species composition are important drivers of bryophyte species composition and diversity at taxonomic and functional trait levels. The high diversity of bryophyte species in Slovenian forests can also be attributed to close-to-nature and sustainable forest management practices that preserve favourable microclimatic conditions in forest stands and maintain diverse substrates.
Keywords: mosses, species richness, functional diversity, site conditions, overstory, sustainable managed forests, European temperate zone
Published in DiRROS: 05.04.2023; Views: 232; Downloads: 41
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Ecological factors affecting the recent Picea abies decline in Slovenia : the importance of bedrock type and forest naturalness
Janez Kermavnar, Lado Kutnar, Anže Martin Pintar, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) has been at the centre of controversy for many decades. Recent evidence of its profound disturbance-induced damage and consequent stock depletions across forest landscapes in Europe has reinforced doubts regarding the sustainability and prospects of this tree species in the future. Like many other European countries, Slovenia has experienced significant Norway spruce mortality and a decrease in growing stock primarily as the result of several disturbance agents (bark beetle outbreaks, an ice storm, windthrows). We investigated a countrywide spruce growing stock decline based on data between 2010 and 2018. Particular focus was placed on identifying the main ecological drivers of this decline, namely geological conditions, climatic parameters, soil attributes, topographic factors and forest stand characteristics. The effects of potential predictors on the relative change (%) in spruce volume (m3 ha-1) during the period 2010-2018 were analysed with Generalized Additive Models. Based on a national dataset including forest compartments (n = 6355) with a spruce growing stock decline > 10%, we found mixed support for ecology-based hypotheses. While spruce decline responded to bedrock type as predicted (i.e., greater relative decline in carbonate compared to silicate compartments), higher forest naturalness (preservation of tree species composition) was not associated with a lower decline. Spruce decline was amplified by higher potential evapotranspiration and soil clay content but showed a strong negative relationship with spruce proportion in the year 2010. General trends along the gradients of other selected predictors (stoniness/rockiness and heat load index) were less pronounced. The results suggest that most of these ecological predictors interact with geology and forest naturalness in affecting Norway spruce decline. Our analysis reveals that bedrock type can play an important role due to its mitigating effects. However, forest naturalness is of secondary significance as intensified large-scale forest disturbances likely override its buffering potential.
Keywords: Norway Spruce, bark beetle outbreaks, ice storm, soil-geology, relationship, tree species composition, Slovenia
Published in DiRROS: 05.04.2023; Views: 488; Downloads: 80
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Are ecological niche optimum and width of forest plant species related to their functional traits?
Janez Kermavnar, Lado Kutnar, Aleksander Marinšek, Valerija Babij, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: The ecological niche is one of the central concepts in plant ecology. Understanding which biological traits influence plant niches remains limited, preventing large-scale generalizations. Using a representative pool of 94 herb-layer species frequently occurring in the Slovenian forest vegetation types and an extensive suite of 28 plant functional traits, we tested whether traits serve as predictors for the optimum and width of plant species ecological niche. Niche optimum (mean) and niche width (standard deviation) of each species were derived from community-level ecological indicator values for six environmental gradients, i.e., light, temperature, continentality, moisture, soil reaction and nutrients. We investigated relationships between niche parameters and functional traits through a random forest analysis to account for relatively high trait correlations. Our results suggest that niche optimum and width of forest plant species are related to their functional traits. The two niche parameters were best explained by similar set of traits; however, the relative importance of traits differed substantially. Traits associated with disturbances (frequency and severity), plant dispersal (seed mass, dispersal syndrome), leaf economics spectrum (specific leaf area) and life strategy (CSR scores) showed the highest overall significance in predicting niche optimum and width. Functional traits were, on average, better predictors for niche optimum (average variance explained across all six environmental factors: 20.2%) than for niche width (average variance explained: 7.7%). Intraspecific trait variability, not considered in this study, likely plays an important role in case of niche width. The analyses suggest that, while not all traits impact niche parameters to the same degree, it is crucial to consider traits representing different ecological dimensions and revealing leading patterns of trait coordination. We recommend that the relative importance of traits for species niche parameters should be tested on a larger spatial scale using broader pool of forest understory plants across Europe.
Keywords: ecological gradients, Ellenberg indicator values, Slovenian forest types, trait-environment relationship, understory plants
Published in DiRROS: 09.03.2023; Views: 218; Downloads: 94
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Assessing the heterogeneity and conservation status of the Natura 2000 priority forest habitat type Tilio–Acerion (9180*) based on field mapping
Janez Kermavnar, Erika Kozamernik, Lado Kutnar, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Priority habitat types (HTs) within the Natura 2000 network are of the highest importance for conservation in Europe. However, they often occur in smaller areas and their conservation status is not well understood. One such HT is that of the Tilio–Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*). The Natura 2000 study site, Boč–Haloze–Donačka gora, in the Sub-Pannonian region of eastern Slovenia is characterized by a matrix of European beech forests and includes rather small, fragmented areas covered by Tilio–Acerion forests. The goal of this research was to examine the heterogeneity and conservation status of the selected HT through field mapping, which was performed in the summer of 2020. As the conservation of HT calls for a more detailed approach, we distinguished between the following four pre-defined habitat subtypes: (i) Acer pseudoplatanus-Ulmus glabra stands growing mostly in concave terrain, (ii) Fraxinus excelsior stands growing on slopes, (iii) Tilia sp. stands with thermophilous broadleaves occurring on ridges and slopes, (iv) Acer pseudoplatanus stands occurring on more acidic soils with an admixture of Castanea sativa. Field mapping information was complemented with the assessment of habitat subtype characteristics using remote sensing data. The results showed that habitat subtypes differed significantly in terms of area, tree species composition, forest stand characteristics, relief features and the various threats they experienced (e.g., fragmentation, tree mortality, ungulate browsing pressure). The differences between subtypes were also evident for LiDAR-derived environmental factors related to topography (i.e., terrain steepness and Topographic Position Index). This study provides a baseline for setting more realistic objectives for the conservation management of priority forest HTs. Due to the specificities of each individual habitat subtype, conservation activities should be targeted to the Natura 2000 habitat subtype level.
Keywords: forest habitat subtype, monitoring, biodiversity conservation, LiDAR, Slovenia, NATURA 2000
Published in DiRROS: 03.02.2023; Views: 766; Downloads: 110
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Funkcionalna ekologija rastlin: preverjanje izbranih konceptov na primeru rastlinskih vrst gozdnih rastiščnih tipov v Sloveniji
Janez Kermavnar, Lado Kutnar, Aleksander Marinšek, Valerija Babij, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Na primeru flore slovenskih gozdov smo obravnavali štiri funkcionalne znake rastlin: specifična listna površina (SLP), vsebnost suhe snovi v listih (VSS), višina rastlin (VIŠ) in masa semen oz. spor (MAS). Prva dva znaka nakazujeta ekonomiko lista (način in učinkovitost izrabe virov), druga dva pa velikost rastlinskih organov. Preučili smo povezave med znaki rastlin in njihovimi fitoindikacijskimi vrednostmi za ekološke dejavnike svetloba (L), temperatura (T), kontinentalnost (K), vlažnost tal (F), reakcija tal (R) in hranila (N). Ugotovili smo statistično značilne korelacije: med SLP in R, N, L, F ter K; med VSS in R ter N; med VIŠ in N, T, R ter F; med MAS in K, R, N ter T. Vzdolž prve osi ordinacijskega prostora smo prepoznali spekter listne ekonomike, ki poteka od vrst z večjimi vrednostmi SLP na produktivnejših, a hkrati senčnih rastiščih, do rastlin z večjimi vrednostmi VSS, prilagojenih na stresne ekološke razmere (npr. nizka reakcija tal ali pomanjkanje hranil oz. vode). Največji prispevek k pojasnjevanju variabilnosti v funkcionalnih lastnostih gozdnih rastlin je imel znak VIŠ, najmanjšega pa znak MAS. Ugotovitve so primerljive z dosedanjimi raziskavami, saj oba izbrana koncepta omogočata prepoznavanje pestrosti oblik in funkcij rastlin na globalni ravni.
Keywords: funkcionalni znaki rastlin, specifična listna površina, vsebnost suhe snovi v listih, višina rastline, masa semena, zelnate rastline, gozdna vegetacija
Published in DiRROS: 29.12.2022; Views: 1067; Downloads: 490
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