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Open AccessArticle

Gap Structure and Regeneration in the Mixed Old-Growth Forests of National Nature Reserve Sitno, Slovakia

Faculty of Forestry, Technical University in Zvolen, T.G. Masaryka 24, 960 01 Zvolen, Slovak Republic
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Forests 2020, 11(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010081
Received: 1 December 2019 / Revised: 2 January 2020 / Accepted: 6 January 2020 / Published: 9 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Role of Gap Factors in Forest Tree Regeneration and Plant Communities)
Forest management mimicking natural processes represents an approach to maintain mixed, uneven-aged stands at small spatial scales. The reliance on natural processes, especially on natural regeneration leads to the use of gap-based regeneration as a fundamental silvicultural technique. As a baseline for such management, we investigated mixed forest in unmanaged National Nature Reserve Sitno in the Western Carpathians, which harbours extraordinary diversity on a rather small scale. To quantify the impact of gaps on gap-filling processes and to assess the role they play in recently observed changes in tree species composition we established a large (2.5 ha) permanent research plot and surveyed the status of natural regeneration, forest structure, tree species composition, and disturbance regime. Our research highlights the long-term and contemporary difficulties in the establishment of Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl and Fagus sylvatica (L.). Based on the provided evidence, the native tree species diversity in one of the few preserved old-growth multi-species beech-oak forest remnants is not likely to persist, what could have many implications for future ecosystem functioning. Our results suggest that variation in gap size is an important factor contributing to composition of tree species composition of natural regeneration. The recent intermediate-scale disturbance pattern dominating the old-growth beech-oak forest is beneficial to canopy recruitment of species less shade-tolerant than Fagus sylvatica, as Acer pseudoplatanus (L.), Acer platanoides (L.), and Fraxinus excelsior (L.). We discuss possible factors behind observed shifts in tree species composition and limitations for application of gap dynamics to forest practice in managed beech-oak forest systems. Overall, results of this study may help to design silvicultural measures promoting mixed-species forests to deliver a range of desired ecosystem services. View Full-Text
Keywords: gap dynamics; regeneration; recruitment; gapmaker; disturbance; European beech; Sessile oak; temperate forests gap dynamics; regeneration; recruitment; gapmaker; disturbance; European beech; Sessile oak; temperate forests
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Jaloviar, P.; Sedmáková, D.; Pittner, J.; Jarčušková Danková, L.; Kucbel, S.; Sedmák, R.; Saniga, M. Gap Structure and Regeneration in the Mixed Old-Growth Forests of National Nature Reserve Sitno, Slovakia. Forests 2020, 11, 81.

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