Evaluating short-term impacts of forest management and microsite conditions on understory vegetation in temperate fir-beech forests : floristic, ecological, and trait-based perspectiveJanez Kermavnar
, Aleksander Marinšek
, Klemen Eler
, Lado Kutnar
Abstract: Forest understory vegetation is largely influenced by disturbances and given local abiotic conditions. Our research focuses on the early response of understory vegetation to various forest management intensities in Dinaric fir-beech forests in Slovenia: (i) control, (ii) 50% cut of stand growing stock, and (iii) 100% cut of stand growing stock. Apart from identifying overstory removal effects, we were interested in fine-scale variation of understory vegetation and environmental determinants of its species composition. Vegetation was sampled within 27 karst sinkholes, which represent a dominant landform in studied forests. Within each sinkhole, five sampling plots, varying in slope aspect (centre, north, east, south, west), were established (135 in total), where pre-treatment (in 2012) and post-treatment (in 2014) floristic surveys were conducted. The sampled understory species were characterized in terms of Ellenberg's indicator values (EIVs) and plant functional traits (plant height, seed mass, specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content). Diversity metrics (species richness, total cover, Shannon index) increased in plots where the silvicultural measures were applied. Tree species richness also increased in 100% cutting. A redundancy analysis revealed that species composition was related to environmental variables, which are directly influenced by management interventions (overstory canopy cover, microclimate maximum daily temperature, soil properties thickness of organic soil layer) as well as by topographic factors (slope inclination and surface rockiness). EIVs for light were significantly affected by treatment intensity, whereas soil-related EIVs (moisture, reaction, nutrients) depended more on the within-sinkhole position. Canopy gaps, compared with uncut control plots, hosted a higher number of colonizing species with a higher plant height and smaller seeds, while leaf traits did not show a clear response. We found a negative correlation between pre-treatment species (functional) richness and post-treatment shifts in floristic (functional) composition. Plots with higher richness exhibited smaller changes compared with species-poor communities. Incorporating different perspectives, the results of this study offer valuable insights into patterns of understory vegetation response to forest management in fir-beech forests.
Keywords: canopy gap, microsite environment, Ellenberg indicator values, plant functional traits, compositional resistance, karst topography, fir-beech forest
DiRROS - Published: 06.12.2019; Views: 1853; Downloads: 999
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Effects of various cutting treatments and topographic factors on microclimatic conditions in Dinaric fir-beech forestsJanez Kermavnar
, Mitja Ferlan
, Aleksander Marinšek
, Klemen Eler
, Andrej Kobler
, Lado Kutnar
Abstract: Forest microclimate is strongly affected by local topography and management activities, as these directly alter overstory structure. In the present work we analysed the dependence of observed patterns of spatio-temporal microclimatic variations on topographic, canopy- and management-related factors. A forestry experiment was conducted in managed fir-beech forests in the Dinaric Mountains (Slovenia), which are characterized by rugged karstic terrain with numerous sinkholes. In 2012, cutting treatments representing a range in the intensity of overstory removal were performed: uncut controls (CON), 50% cut of stand growing stock (intermediate management intensity % IMI) and 100% cut (high management intensity % HMI) creating 0.4 ha canopy gaps. Fine-scale variation in aspect and slope and its effects on microclimate was assessed by comparing central, south-facing and north-facing within-sinkhole positions. We measured microclimatic variables (air temperature % T, relative humidity % RH) 0.5 m above the ground over three consecutive post-treatment growing seasons. Microclimatic variables showed an increase (T and vapour pressure deficit % VPD) or decrease (RH) with management intensity. Daily Tmax and VPDmax in HMI treatment were up to 5.9°C (on average 3.5°C) and up to 1.4 kPa (on average 0.6 kPa) higher than those in CON treatment, respectively, whereas daily RHmin was up to 22.7 (on average 13.0) percentage points lower. Regarding intra-seasonal patterns, microclimatic differences between treatments were largest during the summer. South-facing plots in the HMI treatment overall exhibited the most extreme conditions, i.e. the highest Tmax and lowest RHmin. Differences in microclimate between treatments were strongly modulated by canopy cover. The results also suggest that overstory removal increases topography-mediated variation in microclimate, as evidenced by significant differences in T, RH and VPD along the fine-scale topographic gradient within the created canopy gaps.
Keywords: tree cutting, air temperature, relative humidity, vapour pressure deficit, karst topography, canopy cover
DiRROS - Published: 08.10.2020; Views: 770; Downloads: 266
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