Forests2014, 5(10), 2581-2593; doi:10.3390/f5102581 (registering DOI) - published 23 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Christmas tree production removes organic matter and associated nutrients from a site and can change soil physical properties, reduce mycorrhizal populations, and result in pesticide over-use/accumulation. These impacts have been implicated in potential field productivity declines. Assessing Christmas tree productivity is complicated by genetics, management, and market forces. We approached the perceived or possible productivity decline by examining soil properties on 22 pairs of sites. Each pair was comprised of an early rotation and late rotation plot with 1 and 3 or more rotations of Christmas trees, respectively. All sites were located on commercial Christmas tree plantations from the major production areas in Washington and Oregon. Chemical properties assessed to 45cm included pH, total C and N, and extractable P, K, Ca, and Mg. Soil physical properties assessed included aggregate stability and soil resistance. In general, we found little impact on soil resources that would impact long term production of Christmas trees. These impacts may have been mitigated by farmers following extension service recommendations. Nitrogen, K, and Ca appeared to be primarily affected by harvesting, but replacement by fertilizer application was probably adequate.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2561-2580; doi:10.3390/f5102561 (registering DOI) - published 23 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Distinct seasons and diverse tree species characterize temperate deciduous forests in NE Asia, but large areas of deciduous forests have been converted to conifer plantations. This study was conducted to understand the effects of seasons and tree species on leaf litter decomposition in a temperate forest. Using the litterbag method, the decomposition rate and nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dynamics of Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica), Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), and their mixed leaf litter were compared for 24 months in a Mongolian oak stand, an adjacent Korean pine plantation, and a Mongolian oak—Korean pine mixed stand. The decomposition rates of all the leaf litter types followed a pattern of distinct seasonal changes: most leaf litter decomposition occurred during the summer. Tree species was less influential on the leaf litter decomposition. The decomposition rates among different leaf litter types within the same stand were not significantly different, indicating no mixed litter effect. The immobilization of leaf litter N and P lasted for 14 months. Mongolian oak leaf litter and Korean pine leaf litter showed different N and P contents and dynamics during the decomposition, and soil P2O5 was highest in the Korean pine plantation, suggesting effects of plantation on soil nutrient budget.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2542-2560; doi:10.3390/f5102542 (registering DOI) - published 23 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Although deforestation affects hydrological and climatic variables over tropical regions, its actual contributions to changes in evapotranspiration (ET) over subarctic China remain unknown. To establish a quantitative relationship between deforestation and terrestrial ET variations, we estimated ET using a semi-empirical Penman (SEMI-PM) algorithm driven by meteorological and satellite data at both local and regional scales. The results indicate that the estimated ET can be used to analyse the observed inter-annual variations. There is a statistically significant positive relationship between local-scale forest cover changes (∆F) and annual ET variations (∆ET) of the following form: ∆ET = 0.0377∆F – 2.11 (R2= 0.43, p < 0.05). This relationship may be due to deforestation-induced increases in surface albedo and a reduction in the fractional vegetation cover (FVC). However, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), rather than deforestation, dominates the multi-decadal ET variability due to regional-scale wind speed changes, but the exact effects of deforestation and ENSO on ET are challenging to quantify.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2521-2541; doi:10.3390/f5102521 - published 22 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The literature contains a large number of bioclimate, climate and biometric models for estimating the production of different species or stands under specific conditions on a defined site or models giving the distribution of a single species. Depending on the model used, the amount of input data required varies considerably and often involves a large investment in time and money. The purpose of this study was to create a model to estimate the annual above-ground biomass production of various species from site conditions defined by mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation. For this approach, the Miami model of Lieth was used as a base model with some modifications. This first version of the modified model was restricted to sites in Sweden, where changes in the soil and groundwater level were relatively small, and where the growth of land vegetation was mostly dependent on temperature. A validation of this model has shown that it seems possible to use the Miami model to estimate the annual above-ground biomass production of various species, and that it was possible to compare the annual above-ground biomass production of different species on one site, as well as the annual above-ground biomass production of different species on different sites using the modeled data.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2505-2520; doi:10.3390/f5102505 - published 21 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In semi-arid regions, afforestation with fast-growing species cultured with low irrigation can be an effective approach for environmental protection. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the stem biomass production of Paulownia in a semi-arid climate and clay soils under contrasting low-irrigation and fertilization treatments. The stem biomass at the stand level was estimated by applying allometric equations fitted in sample resprouts and inventory data. The results show that biomass production improved when either irrigation or fertilizer was added, but the combination of a higher dose of irrigation and fertilization did not lead to the highest biomass production; thus water availability was the main factor controlling biomass production. Under the higher dose of irrigation, the absence of a fertilizer effect would be due in part to the fertile soil, which could supply sufficient nutrients for Paulownia growth at the higher level of soil moisture. The stem biomass estimated ranged from 2.14 to 4.50 t×ha−1 (lower irrigation dose without fertilization, and higher irrigation with fertilization). The greater production was similar to other studies in the Mediterranean area receiving more irrigation. Thus, this study permitted us to understand the potential of Paulownia to provide biomass in semi-arid environments with low irrigation due to water use restrictions.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2490-2504; doi:10.3390/f5102490 - published 17 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fire severity varies with forest composition and structure, reflecting micrometeorology and the fuel complex, but their respective influences are difficult to untangle from observation alone. We quantify the differences in fire weather between different forest types and the resulting differences in modeled fire behavior. Collection of in-stand weather data proceeded during two summer periods in three adjacent stands in northern Portugal, respectively Pinus pinaster (PP), Betula alba (BA), and Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (CL). Air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed varied respectively as CL < PP < BA, PP < CL < BA, and CL < BA < PP. Differences between PP and the other types were greatest during the warmest and driest hours of the day in a sequence of 10 days with high fire danger. Estimates of daytime moisture content of fine dead fuels and fire behavior characteristics for this period, respectively, from Behave and BehavePlus, indicate a CL < BA < PP gradient in fire potential. High stand density in CL and BA ensured lower wind speed and higher fuel moisture content than in PP, limiting the likelihood of an extreme fire environment. However, regression tree analysis revealed that the fire behavior distinction between the three forest types was primarily a function of the surface fuel complex, and more so during extreme fire weather conditions.