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Forests 2017, 8(9), 329; doi:10.3390/f8090329

Differentiating Structural and Compositional Attributes across Successional Stages in Chilean Temperate Rainforests

1
Instituto de Bosques y Sociedad, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
2
Laboratorio de Biometría, Departamento de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de La Frontera, Casilla 54-D, Temuco 4780000, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 19 August 2017 / Accepted: 22 August 2017 / Published: 6 September 2017
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Abstract

The landscape in the lowlands of south-central Chile is dominated by agricultural lands and forestry plantations of exotic species. Natural forests are restricted to successional forests, while old-growth forests are nearly absent. The lack of old-growth forests may deprive society from some ecosystem services. Both successional and old forests differ in their ecological functions and in the ecosystem services they can provide. To promote old-growth characteristics in successional forests, it becomes necessary to know which compositional and structural attributes differentiate forests along succession. We aim at identifying the differential attributes among successional and old-growth forests in the lowlands in the northern portion of the Valdivian Rainforests. We analyzed 19 variables in seven different forests and found statistically significant differences in 13 of them. A subset of these variables illustrated major patterns that differentiate successional stages, of which a few could be more easily controlled through management. The latter include lowering tree densities (from >3000 to <1500 trees per hectare), increasing volume of large trees, especially of shade-tolerant species, and structural heterogeneity (a Gini coefficient >0.7 represents older forests). While successional forest show a rapid recovery, forest managers would need to focus in controlling these attributes to increase their old-growth characteristics. View Full-Text
Keywords: Valdivian Temperate Rainforests; forest succession; forest conversion; old-growth forest restoration Valdivian Temperate Rainforests; forest succession; forest conversion; old-growth forest restoration
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ponce, D.B.; Donoso, P.J.; Salas-Eljatib, C. Differentiating Structural and Compositional Attributes across Successional Stages in Chilean Temperate Rainforests. Forests 2017, 8, 329.

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