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Special Issue "Interplay of Human and Natural Disturbances on Pattern and Process in Forest Ecosystems"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Barry Brook

School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: global change; forest ecology; ecological dynamics; biodiversity conservation; paleoenvironments
Guest Editor
Dr. Jessie C. Buettel

School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: pattern and process; forest dynamics; spatial modelling; community ecology; biodiversity conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests are a dominant global biome, providing vital ecosystem services, habitat, and economic value to people. However, they face threats from many agents of global change, like agricultural expansion, harvest and climate shifts. To manage forests effectively, it is imperative to understand the dynamics of their response to human and natural disturbances, over space and time. Features such as size and spatial distribution of living plants, dead woody biomass, and species composition and diversity, are among the key characteristics that define forest type. However, there remains many unsolved questions regarding species interactions, land clearance, competition, fire, climate and other processes that are known to influence the spatio-temporal patterning in forest systems worldwide. In this Special Issue, we seek to highlight and synthesize innovative new research on the interplay between pattern, process and disturbance on forest structure, stability and regeneration. Such advances will lay the foundation for improved forecasts and management of the effects of landscape disturbance and other drivers of global change on forest ecosystems. This knowledge is also crucial for informing debates on human use of global forests and its long-term ecological and social repercussions.

Prof. Dr. Barry W. Brook
Dr. Jessie Buettel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic Influences
  • Biodiversity
  • Catastrophic Events
  • Climate Change
  • Community Ecology
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Fire
  • Forest Structure
  • Land-use Change
  • Population Dynamics
  • Spatial Patterning
  • Succession

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Landscape Structure and Mature Forest Biodiversity in Wet Eucalypt Forests: A Spatial Analysis of Timber Production Areas in South-Eastern Australia
Forests 2017, 8(3), 89; doi:10.3390/f8030089
Received: 8 February 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 17 March 2017
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Abstract
Fire and timber harvesting can diminish the extent of older forests in the near term. The amount and configuration of mature and regenerating forest in the landscape (landscape structure) influences habitat suitability for mature-forest-associated species. We applied spatial analysis to describe the landscape
[...] Read more.
Fire and timber harvesting can diminish the extent of older forests in the near term. The amount and configuration of mature and regenerating forest in the landscape (landscape structure) influences habitat suitability for mature-forest-associated species. We applied spatial analysis to describe the landscape structure of three wet eucalypt forest landscapes in south–eastern Australia and used the results from empirical biodiversity studies to frame interpretation of possible impacts on habitat suitability. We determined the extent of structurally mature forest, its reservation status, and the extent to which it may be edge affected. We also assessed how landscape structure potentially impacts the re-establishment of mature-forest-associated species into previously harvested areas through the proximity to (mature forest influence)—and extent of (landscape context)—mature forest in the surrounding landscape. Our analyses were designed to inform forest management initiatives that draw on these landscape-scale concepts. Central Highlands Victoria had less structurally mature eucalypt forest (4%) compared to North West Tasmania (14%) and Southern Forests Tasmania (21%). Detrimental effects of edge influence on structurally mature forest appeared relatively minor. Low levels of mature forest influence combined with low-medium surrounding mature forest cover (landscape context) indicate potential limitations on recolonisation of coupes by mature-forest-associated species. Our results vindicate the recent shift toward variable retention silviculture and landscape context planning. Our approach to landscape analysis provides a useful framework for other managed forest landscapes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fire Scenarios in Spain: A Territorial Approach to Proactive Fire Management in the Context of Global Change
Forests 2016, 7(11), 273; doi:10.3390/f7110273
Received: 8 September 2016 / Revised: 22 October 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 12 November 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3516 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Humans and fire form a coupled and co-evolving natural-human system in Mediterranean-climate ecosystems. In this context, recent trends in landscape change, such as urban sprawl or the abandoning of agricultural and forest land management in line with new models of economic development and
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Humans and fire form a coupled and co-evolving natural-human system in Mediterranean-climate ecosystems. In this context, recent trends in landscape change, such as urban sprawl or the abandoning of agricultural and forest land management in line with new models of economic development and lifestyles, are leading to new fire scenarios. A fire scenario refers to the contextual factors of a fire regime, i.e., the environmental, socio-economic and policy drivers of wildfire initiation and propagation on different spatial and temporal scales. This is basically a landscape concept linking territorial dynamics (related to ecosystem evolution and settlement patterns) with a fire regime (ignition causes; spread patterns; fire frequency, severity, extent and seasonality). The aim of this article is to identify and characterize these land-based fire scenarios in Spain on a national and regional scale, using a GIS-based methodology to perform a spatial analysis of the area attributes of homogenous fire spread patterns. To do this, the main variables considered are: land use/land cover, fuel load and recent fire history. The final objective is to reduce territorial vulnerability to forest wildfires and facilitate the adaptation of fire policies and land management systems to current challenges of preparedness and uncertainty management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Anthropogenic Disturbances Create a New Vegetation Toposequence in the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec
Forests 2016, 7(11), 254; doi:10.3390/f7110254
Received: 26 August 2016 / Revised: 12 October 2016 / Accepted: 23 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2882 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study measured changes in forest composition that have occurred since the preindustrial era along the toposequence of the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec, Canada (5650 km2), based on survey records prior to colonization (1804–1864) and recent forest inventories (1982–2006). Changes in
[...] Read more.
This study measured changes in forest composition that have occurred since the preindustrial era along the toposequence of the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec, Canada (5650 km2), based on survey records prior to colonization (1804–1864) and recent forest inventories (1982–2006). Changes in forest cover composition over time were found to be specific to toposequence position. Maple and red oak are now more frequent on upper toposequence positions (+26%, +21%, respectively), whereas yellow birch, eastern hemlock, and American beech declined markedly (−34% to −17%). Poplar is more frequent throughout the landscape, but particularly on mid-toposequence positions (+40%). In contrast, white pine, frequent on all toposequence positions in the preindustrial forest, is now confined to shallow and coarse-textured soils (−20%). The preindustrial forest types of the study area were mostly dominated by maple, yellow birch, and beech, with strong components of white pine, hemlock, and eastern white cedar, either as dominant or codominant species. In a context of ongoing anthropogenic disturbances and environmental changes, it is probably not possible to restore many of these types, except where targeted silvicultural interventions could increase the presence of certain species. The new forest types observed should be managed to ensure continuity of vital ecosystem services and functions as disturbance regimes evolve. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Heterogeneity in Chinese Forest Area Change in the Early 21st Century
Forests 2016, 7(10), 232; doi:10.3390/f7100232
Received: 14 May 2016 / Revised: 21 July 2016 / Accepted: 28 September 2016 / Published: 12 October 2016
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Abstract
A comprehensive set of 30-m resolution land coverage data of 2000 and 2010 was used for an analysis of the spatial heterogeneity of forest area change in early 21st century China. Four regression models were built to determine the current situation of the
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A comprehensive set of 30-m resolution land coverage data of 2000 and 2010 was used for an analysis of the spatial heterogeneity of forest area change in early 21st century China. Four regression models were built to determine the current situation of the ‘forest transition’ in China. The results show that forest area in China has grown rapidly over this period such that total forest area has increased by 102,500 km2 and forest cover has increased by 1.06%. Our results demonstrate the presence of a ‘U-shaped’ relationship, the so-called ‘forest transition’, between forest area change and per capita gross domestic product (GDP). We estimate that the inflection point in the Chinese ‘forest transition’ will be at a per capita GDP of 50,522 yuan. In the future, regions with lower elevations, or slope, should be the focus of attention because of dramatic recent forest changes. In particular, forest areas in the regions of the Xiaoxing’anling-Changbaishan Mountains and in South China have markedly decreased, and these are areas of concern. In the meantime, the government needs to strengthen the management of large-scale interconversions between forest and grassland. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Look Down to See What’s Up: A Systematic Overview of Treefall Dynamics in Forests
Forests 2017, 8(4), 123; doi:10.3390/f8040123
Received: 1 March 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 14 April 2017 / Published: 17 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1748 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The study of treefall and its after-effects is a common theme in studies of forest structure and local dynamics, yet its value as descriptor of broader-scale ecological dynamics is rarely explored. Here we synthesize the most highly cited literature on treefalls, from 1985
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The study of treefall and its after-effects is a common theme in studies of forest structure and local dynamics, yet its value as descriptor of broader-scale ecological dynamics is rarely explored. Here we synthesize the most highly cited literature on treefalls, from 1985 to 2016 (in three-year blocks), highlighting the importance of the causes, characteristics and consequences of such events. We then ask how this knowledge might contribute to the broader conceptual model of forest dynamics, and develop two conceptual models, which we use to illustrate both the classic and alternative views of how forests ‘work’. Treefalls are one of the few ‘integrating’ attributes of forests, because of their ubiquity and longevity, and therefore can inform a variety of processes (e.g., tree mortality, turnover rates, structural impacts, recruitment, and fire frequency) due to their impacts occurring simultaneously over space (patterns), and time (legacy effects). The substantial knowledge that already exists on localized treefall dynamics should be combined with more integrative approaches to studying forest ecosystems, to investigate landscape-scale patterns of treefall and reconstruct past disturbance events. Full article
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Open AccessReview Global Ecological Signpost, Local Reality: The Moraballi Creek Studies in Guyana and What Happened Afterwards
Forests 2016, 7(12), 317; doi:10.3390/f7120317
Received: 24 September 2016 / Revised: 30 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 15 December 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1447 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a common assumption that when sustainable forest management (SFM) is not practised the reasons are usually a lack of knowledge or lack of training in applying those techniques. We trace the intermittent development of techniques for SFM in the tropical rainforest
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There is a common assumption that when sustainable forest management (SFM) is not practised the reasons are usually a lack of knowledge or lack of training in applying those techniques. We trace the intermittent development of techniques for SFM in the tropical rainforest of Guyana (South America), beginning with the classical observational ecology at Moraballi Creek in 1929. We reference the deliberate lack of application of SFM in spite of access to science-based information and repeated training. In this country, a precarious political democracy is destabilised by the gigantic profits from illegal logging and log trading which support corruption in the sector and generally across regulatory systems. The highest rate of graduate emigration in the world contributes to the difficulty of creating the core of moral leadership required to rise above the local tradition of under-the-table negotiation in place of the rule of law. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperCommentary Lessons from Research for Sustainable Development and Conservation in Borneo
Forests 2016, 7(12), 314; doi:10.3390/f7120314
Received: 23 October 2016 / Revised: 5 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 11 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2675 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
I present a brief synopsis of six key lessons provided by research on forest ecology and conservation, focusing particularly on the Malaysian state of Sabah in northeastern Borneo. These lessons are generalizable to other contexts, especially for tropical developing nations, where surviving forests
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I present a brief synopsis of six key lessons provided by research on forest ecology and conservation, focusing particularly on the Malaysian state of Sabah in northeastern Borneo. These lessons are generalizable to other contexts, especially for tropical developing nations, where surviving forests are under growing pressures from a range of human activities. Full article
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