Post-harvest forest herb layer demography : general patterns are driven by pre-disturbance conditionsJanez Kermavnar
, Klemen Eler
, Aleksander Marinšek
, Lado Kutnar
, 2021, original scientific article
Abstract: Timber harvesting constitutes extensive anthropogenic disturbance in temperate forests, producing a broad range of ecological impacts that most often enhance the demographic processes of vegetation. This study monitored post-harvest herb layer demography over a 6-year period in mesic Dinaric fir-beech forests (Slovenia), a vascular plant diversity hotspot among European forests. Three experimental harvesting intensities, i.e. full harvest (FH), partial harvest (PH) and a control treatment (NH), were each applied over a circular area of 4000 m2 and replicated three times at each of three study sites. Vegetation sampling was conducted before harvesting (in 2012), and two (2014) and six (2018) years following it, in a 400 m2 circular plot positioned in the centre of each treatment area. We focused on identifying general demographic patterns and evaluating the effects of various pre-disturbance abiotic and biotic predictors on compositional responses to disturbance. Two years after harvest (2012-2014), compositional shifts were larger than those in the next 4-year period (2014-2018), confirming the general theoretical prediction that species turnover rate decreases along a successional gradient. The degree of compositional shifts in gaps (FH) and thinned stands (PH) was affected by local abiotic factors (geomorphology of karst sinkholes) and community attributes, such as pre-harvest species richness. Our results indicate that compositional stability is positively associated with pre-disturbance species richness. Over the whole study period, increases in plot-level species richness (alpha diversity) and overall enrichment of the species pool (gamma diversity) were accompanied by compositional convergence, i.e. a decline in floristic dissimilarity (beta diversity) between and within study sites. However, the observed tendency towards homogenization was rather weak and would have been even more pronounced if the demographic type of persistent resident species had not shown a high degree of resistance, thus leaving a strong imprint on post-harvest vegetation development by preserving the forest characteristics of the herb layer community.
Keywords: forest succession, demographic types, community assembly, pre-disturbance factors, floristic convergence, fir-beech forests
Published in DiRROS: 22.07.2022; Views: 164; Downloads: 123
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