Forests2015, 6(4), 903-913; doi:10.3390/f6040903 - published 24 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In recent years, Austria has experienced highly variable forest fire activity with new record values regarding the number of fires and sizes of burned areas. Single seasons in 2011, 2012 and 2013 showed 20-year-peaks and significant differences regarding fire activity. A statistical overview of datasets from Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia is given, allowing a preliminary comparison between the Alpine countries. Higher temperatures in combination with local dry weather conditions are hypothesized as reasons for the observed anomalies. Further analysis will be done with new climatic data in high spatial resolution from the “AgroDroughtAustria” project to confirm these preliminary findings.
Forests2015, 6(4), 879-902; doi:10.3390/f6040879 - published 24 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Planted forests of Sitka spruce, a non-native species from north-west America, are the major forest type in Great Britain and Ireland. Standard management involves even-aged stands, rotations of 40–50 years and a patch clear-felling system with artificial regeneration. However, forest policies support managing these forests for multifunctional objectives with increased diversity of species composition and stand structure. Continuous cover forestry (CCF) is an alternative silvicultural approach used to provide such diversity, but the amount of CCF forest is under 10% of the forest area, and less in Sitka spruce forests; This paper reviews research carried out in the last two decades to support the implementation of CCF in Sitka spruce planted forests; Stand structures and microclimate favouring natural regeneration are understood. Harvesting systems have been adapted for use in CCF stands, a single-tree growth model has been calibrated, comparative costs and revenues have been determined, and operational trials established. The interaction between thinning and wind stability in irregular stands is problematic, together with the lack of suitable species for growing in mixture with Sitka spruce; Introduction of an alternative silvicultural approach may take decades and must overcome technical challenges and cultural resistance.
Forests2015, 6(4), 859-878; doi:10.3390/f6040859 - published 24 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: As European forest policy increasingly focuses on multiple ecosystem services and participatory decision making, forest managers and policy planners have a need for integrated, user-friendly, broad spectrum decision support systems (DSS) that address risks and uncertainties, such as climate change, in a robust way and that provide credible advice in a transparent manner, enabling effective stakeholder involvement. The Sim4Tree DSS has been accordingly developed as a user-oriented, modular and multipurpose toolbox. Sim4Tree supports strategic and tactical forestry planning by providing simulations of forest development, ecosystem services potential and economic performance through time, from a regional to a stand scale, under various management and climate regimes. Sim4Tree allows comparing the performance of different scenarios with regard to diverse criteria so as to optimize management choices. This paper explains the concept, characteristics, functionalities, components and use of the current Sim4Tree DSS v2.5, which was parameterized for the region of Flanders, Belgium, but can be flexibly adapted to allow a broader use. When considering the current challenges for forestry DSS, an effort has been made towards the participatory component and towards integration, while the lack of robustness remains Sim4Tree’s weakest point. However, its structural flexibility allows many possibilities for future improvement and extension.
Forests2015, 6(3), 858; doi:10.3390/f6030858 - published 23 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The authors wish to correct a statement in the published paper , doi:10.3390/f5112750, website: http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/5/11/2750/htm. After publication, we discovered that two numbers were mistakenly switched. Section, 4.1, should read “Oregon slender salamanders were detected in 144/420 (34%) plots and 101/378 (27%) plots in 2013 and 2014, respectively; ensatina salamanders were detected in 53/420 (13%) plots and 73/378 (19%) plots in 2013 and 2014, respectively”. The authors would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to the readers by these changes.[...]
Forests2015, 6(3), 839-857; doi:10.3390/f6030839 - published 23 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Polyploid breeding is important in Populus genetic improvement programs because polyploid trees generally display increased height growth compared to their diploid parents. However, the genetic mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains unknown. In the present study, apical bud transcriptomes of vigorous, fast growing Populus allotriploid progeny genotypes and their diploid parents were sequenced and analyzed. We found that these allotriploids exhibited extensive transcriptomic diversity. In total, 6020 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found when the allotriploid progeny and their parents were compared, among which 791 overlapped between the allotriploids and both parents. Many genes associated with cell differentiation and meristem development were preferentially expressed in apical buds of the fast growing Populus allotriploids compared to their diploid parents. In addition, many auxin-, gibberellin-, and jasmonic acid-related genes were also preferentially expressed in the allotriploids compared to their parents. Our findings show that allotriploidy can have considerable effects on duplicate gene expression in Populus. In particular we identified and considered DEGs that provide important clues for improving our mechanistic understanding of positive heterosis of vigor- and growth-related traits in Populus allotriploids.
Forests2015, 6(3), 827-838; doi:10.3390/f6030827 - published 20 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Forestry practices are placing ever increasing emphasis on sustainability and the maintenance of ecological processes, biodiversity, and endangered species or populations. Balancing timber harvest and the management of imperiled species presents a particularly difficult challenge during this shift, as we often know very little about these species’ natural history and how and why silviculture practices affect their populations. Accordingly, investigation of and improvement on current management practices for threatened species is imperative. We investigated the effectiveness of habitat buffers as a management technique for the imperiled Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti) by combining genetic, transect, and body-condition data. We found that populations where habitat buffers have been employed have higher genetic diversity and higher population densities, and individuals have better overall body condition. These results indicate that buffering the habitat of imperiled species can be an effective management tool for terrestrial salamanders. Additionally, they provide further evidence that leaving the habitat of imperiled salamanders unbuffered can have both immediate and long-term negative impacts on populations.