A better understanding on the associations between road density (RD), urban forest structural-taxonomic attributes, and landscape metrics is vital for forest ecological service evaluations and suitable management in sprawling urban areas with increasing road networks. We chose Harbin, a fast growing provincial capital city in northeast China, as a case study to address this issue. We utilized ArcGIS software (Esri, version 10.0; Redlands, CA, USA) and FRAGSTATS (V4.2.589) to digitize GF-1 images (Gaofen No.1 remote sensing images) to acquire road net characteristic information and landscape metrics of urban forests in Harbin. Together with forest structural-taxonomic attributes from a stratified random sampling survey, statistical methods such as an analysis of variance, a regression analysis, and a redundancy analysis were used to determine the road-dependent differences and to decouple the associations between them. The results indicated that road area percentages, road length/imperious surface area (ISA) ratios, road area/ISA ratios, and road cross-points sharply increased from low to heavy RD areas. This road intensification was strongly associated with increased urban forest area, patch density, and diverse patch shapes; smaller tree sizes, lower tree densities, and diverse tree species compositions were generally observed. Redundancy-based variation partitioning showed that part of the variations in structural-taxonomic attributes of forests could be explained by road intensity characteristics. In low RD (0–1.5 km/km2
) regions, the road characteristics significantly affected forest characteristics (Shannon Wiener diversity index, species richness, and evenness index); however, such associations weakened with increasing forest landscape-related associations in medium to heavy RD (1.5–6 km/km2
) regions. Our findings highlighted that road development is strongly associated with forest characteristics in Harbin city, and RD-dependent forest landscape regulating management could favor the maximization of forest ecological services that are related to structural and species identities.
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