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Forests, Volume 12, Issue 1 (January 2021) – 108 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The image shows tree windthrow and stem break from the Lake Lavieille tornado, which occurred on June 10, 2020, in the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. This was rated as an EF1 tornado, with estimated maximum wind speeds of 145 km/h, a path length of 11.4 km, and a maximum path width of 460 m. The raw images were taken from an aircraft, stitched into an orthomosaic map and analyzed by the Northern Tornadoes Project (https://www.uwo.ca/ntp/). This was one of 10 tornadoes that occurred across Ontario on that day. View this paper
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Article
Soil Biodiversity as Affected by Different Thinning Intensities in a Pinus laricio Stand of Calabrian Apennine, South Italy
Forests 2021, 12(1), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010108 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1031
Abstract
Forest soil biodiversity, which drives natural ecosystem multifunctionality, can be altered by incorrect forestry management practices. Pinus laricio is the most representative and widespread conifer species in Calabria, South Italy, and appropriate management is needed to maintain Pinus laricio forest for its great [...] Read more.
Forest soil biodiversity, which drives natural ecosystem multifunctionality, can be altered by incorrect forestry management practices. Pinus laricio is the most representative and widespread conifer species in Calabria, South Italy, and appropriate management is needed to maintain Pinus laricio forest for its great economic and natural value. In Europe, thinning is considered the most effective silvicultural treatment to maintain/increase the ecological value of coniferous stands. In this study, moderate thinning (MT), intense thinning (HT), and clear cut (CC) treatments were used to manage Pinus laricio stands with the aim of identifying the thinning intensity that is less detrimental to soil biodiversity. The effects of the different thinning intensities were evaluated, in two contrasting seasons (summer and winter), on the abundance, and diversity of arthropods, fungi, and bacteria colonies as well as on selected soil properties (organic matter, humification index, bulk density, pH) related to soil habitability. Results evidenced that the abundance, species richness, and diversity of arthropods, as well as fungi, bacteria colonies, and soil properties, changed with the treatments and seasons. Under HT, the greatest biodiversity and the highest amounts of arthropods, fungi, and bacteria were found in both seasons. This study finds evidence for Connell’s intermediate disturbance hypothesis, highlighting that the greatest organic carbon content and humification index, as well as the lowest bulk density, found in HT reduced the likelihood of competitive exclusion between occurring species, thereby promoting high species richness and diversity. This study gives insights into ecological relationships between understory composition related to tree species abundance and soil community. Full article
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Article
Age-Dependent Changes in Soil Respiration and Associated Parameters in Siberian Permafrost Larch Stands Affected by Wildfire
Forests 2021, 12(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010107 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1087
Abstract
The observed high spatial variation in soil respiration (SR) and associated parameters emphasized the importance of SR heterogeneity at high latitudes and the involvement of many factors in its regulation, especially within fire-affected areas. The problem of estimating CO2 emissions during post-fire [...] Read more.
The observed high spatial variation in soil respiration (SR) and associated parameters emphasized the importance of SR heterogeneity at high latitudes and the involvement of many factors in its regulation, especially within fire-affected areas. The problem of estimating CO2 emissions during post-fire recovery in high-latitude ecosystems addresses the mutual influence of wildfires and climate change on the C cycle. Despite its importance, especially in permafrost regions because of their vulnerability, the mutual influence of these factors on CO2 dynamics has rarely been studied. Thus, we aimed to understand the dynamics of soil respiration (SR) in wildfire-affected larch recovery successions. We analyzed 16-year data (1995–2010) on SR and associated soil, biological, and environmental parameters obtained during several field studies in larch stands of different ages (0–276 years) in the Krasnoyarsk region (Russia). We observed a high variation in SR and related parameters among the study sites. SR varied from 1.77 ± 1.18 (mean ± SD) µmol CO2 m−2 s−1 in the 0–10-year-old group to 5.18 ± 2.70 µmol CO2 m−2 s−1 in the 150–276-year-old group. We found a significant increasing trend in SR in the 88–141-year old group during the study period, which was related to the significant decrease in soil water content due to the shortage of precipitation during the growing season. We observed a high spatial variation in SR, which was primarily regulated by biological and environmental factors. Different parameters were the main contributors to SR in each group, an SR was significantly affected by the inter-relationships between the studied parameters. The obtained results can be incorporated into the existing SR databases, which can allow their use in the construction and validation of C transport models as well as in monitoring global fluctuations in the C cycle in response to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Soil Carbon and Climate Changes)
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Article
Dynamics of Carbon Accumulation in Tropical Dry Forests under Climate Change Extremes
Forests 2021, 12(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010106 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1319
Abstract
We analyze here how much carbon is being accumulated annually by secondary tropical dry forests (TDFs) and how structure, composition, time since abandonment, and climate can influence the dynamics of forest carbon accumulation. The study was carried out in Santa Rosa National Park [...] Read more.
We analyze here how much carbon is being accumulated annually by secondary tropical dry forests (TDFs) and how structure, composition, time since abandonment, and climate can influence the dynamics of forest carbon accumulation. The study was carried out in Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste province, Costa Rica and Mata Seca State Park in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Total carbon storage and carbon accumulation were obtained for both sites from the sum of the aboveground carbon and belowground carbon gain plus the annual litterfall. Carbon accumulation of these TDFs varied from 2.6 Mg C ha−1 y−1 to 6.3 Mg C ha−1 y−1, depending on the age of the forest stands. Time since abandonment and number of stems per plot were the best predictors for carbon storage, annual carbon gains, and losses. Mortality rates and carbon losses were also associated with seasonal climate variability. We found significant correlations between tree mortality, carbon losses and mean seasonal temperature, mean seasonal precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and the Oceanic Niño Index. Carbon dynamics in tropical dry forests are driven by time since abandonment and forest structure; however, rising temperature and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can have a significant impact on tree mortality and carbon losses. Depending on their location and land-use history, some dry forests are more impacted by climatic extremes than others, and differences between secondary stages are expected. Full article
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Article
Analysis of State Forest Institutions in the Republic of Moldova, Using a Causative Model
Forests 2021, 12(1), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010105 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 721
Abstract
With state institutions playing a determinant role and the state owning 86% of the forestland, the forest sector in the Republic of Moldova still strives to adapt to post-communist socio-economic realities. This paper evaluates the performance of forest state institutions in achieving ambitious [...] Read more.
With state institutions playing a determinant role and the state owning 86% of the forestland, the forest sector in the Republic of Moldova still strives to adapt to post-communist socio-economic realities. This paper evaluates the performance of forest state institutions in achieving ambitious policy goals oriented toward sustainable management and enhancing forest protection functions. The performance of the Moldsilva Agency; State Forest Enterprises; and Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment were evaluated, using the criteria of the 3L Model. The research combined participatory observations, face-to-face semi-structured interviews and secondary empirical evidence. The results indicate a paternalistic regulatory approach, with state authority institutions giving marginal importance to non-state forests, and low-efficiency state forest management institutions having financial difficulties that threaten the fulfillment of sustainability goals. The Moldsilva Agency has a central role in intra-/inter-sectorial coordination and cooperation. The authorities should seriously consider a more precise formulation of policy goals, with solid budgetary support along with institutional measures aiming at more efficient forest management structures and higher concern for non-state forests and society’s demands. Full article
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Commentary
Management of Multiple Ecosystem Services under Climate Change, Bioeconomy and Participation
Forests 2021, 12(1), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010104 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 970
Abstract
The Special Issue “Decision Support to Address Multiple Ecosystem Services in Forest Management Planning” includes nine research papers, two review papers, and a white paper presenting highlights of focused research initiatives. The papers provide a comprehensive framework for the analysis and review of [...] Read more.
The Special Issue “Decision Support to Address Multiple Ecosystem Services in Forest Management Planning” includes nine research papers, two review papers, and a white paper presenting highlights of focused research initiatives. The papers provide a comprehensive framework for the analysis and review of advanced Decision Support Systems (DSS), which are multi-criteria decision approaches. Their emphasis is on how these methods and tools may contribute to address the multi-functionality of forests, to support scenario and trade-off analysis of ecosystem services, and to represent interests and behavior of various stakeholders. In the context of forest ecosystem management, a need has arisen to consider various dimensions in the design of the planning process. This calls for the development of appropriate mixes of decision making tools and methods and for its testing with the support of case studies. In this Special Issue, comments on, and implications of, the improvement of innovative decision methods and systems to address the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services and support scenario analysis with the active involvement of stakeholders are presented. Full article
Communication
Potential Differences and Methods of Determining Gypsy Moth Female Flight Capabilities: Implications for the Establishment and Spread in Novel Habitats
Forests 2021, 12(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010103 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 797
Abstract
The introduction of the Asian gypsy moth into novel environments continues with frequent interceptions in North America. There is a concern that these subspecies will pose a greater threat to the forests and urban environments of North America than the established gypsy moths [...] Read more.
The introduction of the Asian gypsy moth into novel environments continues with frequent interceptions in North America. There is a concern that these subspecies will pose a greater threat to the forests and urban environments of North America than the established gypsy moths (Lymantria dispardispar L.), due to their greater capacity for female flight. Asian gypsy moth populations vary in many key traits, including female flight capabilities. The potential impacts of female flight, in combination with the other key traits, on the ecology and spread of this insect are first discussed in this communication. This also provides the first review of most of the current literature on the variations in flight capability and flight distance of gypsy moth populations, as well as variation in other traits of concern and the potential methods of identification, with special attention paid to the Asian subspecies Lymantria dispar japonica Motschulsky and Lymantria dispar asiatica Vinkovskij. There are currently good tools for identifying the general origin of introduced gypsy moth populations, but these do not provide enough information to effectively manage introductions. Gypsy moth key traits differ among populations, even within each subspecies of the gypsy moth, so introduction of gypsy moths from other world areas into locations where the gypsy moth is already present could result in unwanted changes in gypsy moth biology. It also appears that the introduction of flight-capable females could enhance a population’s dispersal capability and require modifications to management protocols used for flightless females. Therefore, rapid tools to assess key traits in introduced populations are needed to adequately plan for, or deal with, new introductions into novel habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Pathology and Entomology)
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Perspective
The Importance of High–Quality Data for REDD+ Monitoring and Reporting
Forests 2021, 12(1), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010099 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2046
Abstract
This article discusses the importance of quality deforestation area estimates for reliable and credible REDD+ monitoring and reporting. It discusses how countries can make use of global spatial tree cover change assessments, but how considerable additional efforts are required to translate these into [...] Read more.
This article discusses the importance of quality deforestation area estimates for reliable and credible REDD+ monitoring and reporting. It discusses how countries can make use of global spatial tree cover change assessments, but how considerable additional efforts are required to translate these into national deforestation estimates. The article illustrates the relevance of countries’ continued efforts on improving data quality for REDD+ monitoring by looking at Mexico, Cambodia, and Ghana. The experience in these countries show differences between deforestation areas assessed directly from maps and improved sample-based deforestation area estimates, highlighting significant changes in both magnitude and trend of assessed deforestation from both methods. Forests play an important role in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and therefore the ability of countries to accurately measure greenhouse gases from forests is critical. Continued efforts by countries are needed to produce credible and reliable data. Supporting countries to continually increase the quality of deforestation area estimates will also support more efficient allocation of finance that rewards REDD+ results-based payments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue REDD+: Protecting Climate, Forests and Livelihoods)
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Article
Phytosociological Analysis of Natural and Artificial Pine Forests of the Class Vaccinio-Piceetea Br.-Bl. in Br.-Bl. et al. 1939 in the Sudetes and Their Foreland (Bohemian Massif, Central Europe)
Forests 2021, 12(1), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010098 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 712
Abstract
Research Highlights: Differentiation of Scots pine forests of the class Vaccinio-Piceetea in Poland has been the subject of numerous studies, including revisions. Despite that, the area of southwestern Poland was hitherto practically unexplored in this respect. Background and Objectives: The aim of this [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Differentiation of Scots pine forests of the class Vaccinio-Piceetea in Poland has been the subject of numerous studies, including revisions. Despite that, the area of southwestern Poland was hitherto practically unexplored in this respect. Background and Objectives: The aim of this work was therefore (i) to present the diversity of the pine forests in the Sudetes and their foreland; (ii) to compare the ecology of studied communities. Materials and Methods: We analyzed 175 phytosociological relevés collected between 1991 and 2020 in natural and anthropogenic pine stands. To identify vegetation types, we used the modified TWINSPAN algorithm; principal coordinate analysis, distance-based redundancy analysis and permutational tests were applied to identify the variation explained and the main environmental gradients shaping the studied plant communities. Results: Five associations were distinguished: thermophilous Asplenio cuneifolii-Pinetum sylvestris Pišta ex Husová in Husová et al. 2002, which develops on shallow soils over ultrabasic substrates, Hieracio pallidi-Pinetum sylvestris Stöcker 1965, which prefers outcrops of acidic rocks; Betulo carpaticae-Pinetum sylvestris Mikyška 1970, which is relict in origin and occurs on the upper Cretaceous sandstones, the peatland pine–birch forests of the Vaccinio uliginosi-Betuletum pubescentis Libbert 1933 and the Vaccinio myrtilli-Pinetum sylvestris Juraszek 1928. Moreover, community Brachypodium sylvaticum-Pinus sylvestris with the occurrence of many thermophilous and basiphilous species was also found on limestone substratum. The analysis of the species composition of pine plantations established on deciduous and mixed forests habitats revealed that these anthropogenic communities were marked by a random combination of species in which a certain group of common forest generalists participated. The distinguished communities differed clearly among each other also in habitat characteristics. Particularly important for their differentiation were soil reaction and nutrients, supported by differences in moisture, temperature and light availability. Apart from the edaphic factors, altitude and the bedrock type proved to be equally important. Conclusions: Our study provides new remarks to the typology and synecology of pine forest communities in SW Poland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Effect of Veneer Initial Moisture Content on the Performance of Polyethylene Film Reinforced Decorative Veneer
Forests 2021, 12(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010102 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 688
Abstract
The flexible modification of decorative veneer by plastic film is an effective method to broaden its applications. In order to understand the effect of initial veneer moisture content on the performance of plastic film reinforced decorative veneer, Fraxinus mandshurica veneers with different initial [...] Read more.
The flexible modification of decorative veneer by plastic film is an effective method to broaden its applications. In order to understand the effect of initial veneer moisture content on the performance of plastic film reinforced decorative veneer, Fraxinus mandshurica veneers with different initial moisture contents were composited with polyethylene film. The overlaying performance of the decorative veneer and its interface morphology with MDF substrate were evaluated. The results showed that when the initial moisture content increased from 10% to 50%, the cavity proportion of PE film reinforced decorative veneer increased from 7.23% to 18.48%, while all of the minimum steel rod diameters remained at 7.6 mm. When the initial moisture content fluctuated between 10% and 20%, the optimum surface bonding strength (1 MPa) and immersion peel strength (0 mm) of the decorative veneer could be obtained. The strength of the decorative veneer significantly decreased when the initial moisture content was more than 20%, which was caused by the cavities and the poor interfacial bonding. The veneer surface was easy to crack under low moisture content conditions. Based on the overall performance and the cost of decorative wood-based panels, initial veneer moisture content was suggested to be 15% to 20%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wood Science and Forest Products)
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Review
China’s Key Forestry Ecological Development Programs: Implementation, Environmental Impact and Challenges
Forests 2021, 12(1), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010101 - 18 Jan 2021
Viewed by 733
Abstract
Forest ecosystems are in serious trouble globally, largely due to the over-exploitation. To alleviate environmental problems caused by deforestation, China has undertaken a series of key forestry ecological development programs, including the Natural Forest Protection Program (NFPP), the Conversion of Cropland into Forests [...] Read more.
Forest ecosystems are in serious trouble globally, largely due to the over-exploitation. To alleviate environmental problems caused by deforestation, China has undertaken a series of key forestry ecological development programs, including the Natural Forest Protection Program (NFPP), the Conversion of Cropland into Forests Program (CCFP), the Desertification Combating Program around Beijing and Tianjing (DCBT), the Key Shelterbelt Development Programs in the Three-North Region and in the Middle and Lower Reaches of the Yangtze River (KSDP) and the Nature Reserve Development Program in Forestry Sector (WCNR). This article aims to make a documentation of the specific contents (duration, major aims, geographic coverage and investment), and environmental impacts of these programs from peer-reviewed literature, official reports and journals. Environmental impact is measured with land area afforested (except the WCNR) and the consequent changes in ecosystem function. Overall, with the huge investment and long-term efforts, these programs have made tremendous progress in increasing vegetative coverage, enhancing carbon sequestration, controlling soil erosion, conservation of biodiversity, etc. For proper implementation and remarkable achievement, a more balanced approach with flexible planning, suitable measures and proper management should be adopted. Meanwhile, the scientific communities need to be more actively involved in execution and assessment of these programs. The environmental impact of the DCBT, the KSDP, and the WCNR deserve more research concern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Valuation and Sustainable Management of Forests)
Article
Transgenerational Induction of Resistance to Phytophthora cinnamomi in Holm Oak
Forests 2021, 12(1), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010100 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 793
Abstract
The maternal environment of a tree species can influence the development and resistance of its offspring. Transgenerational induction of resistance is well known in plants but its occurrence in forest tree species has been less reported. Quercus ilex L. (holm oak) is a [...] Read more.
The maternal environment of a tree species can influence the development and resistance of its offspring. Transgenerational induction of resistance is well known in plants but its occurrence in forest tree species has been less reported. Quercus ilex L. (holm oak) is a widespread Mediterranean tree species threatened by the invasive Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands pathogen. The influence of P. cinnamomi on the offspring of infected Q. ilex mother trees has not been studied. This study compared the performance and tolerance to P. cinnamomi of seedlings from non-infected and P. cinnamomi-infected trees. Acorns from Q. ilex trees were collected from five forests. After isolations were conducted in the rhizosphere of several trees, in each forest, three trees were selected as non-infected and three were selected as P. cinnamomi-infected. Forty acorns per tree were weighed and sown under greenhouse conditions, and when plants were aged ~9 months they were challenged with P. cinnamomi. Plant mortality was higher in the offspring of non-infected trees than in the offspring of P. cinnamomi-infected trees (26.2% vs. 21.1%, respectively). Consistently, survival probabilities of seedlings from P. cinnamomi-infected trees were higher than those of seedlings from non-infected trees, particularly in seedlings with reduced growth. Although acorns from healthy Q. ilex trees were heavier than acorns from P. cinnamomi-infected trees, the time to death of inoculated seedlings was not influenced by seed weight. The time to death of seedlings was positively related to belowground mass, particularly to an increased proportion of fine secondary roots. We report transgenerational-induced resistance to P. cinnamomi in Q. ilex triggered by an unknown mechanism independent of acorn mass. Information about the persistence of transgenerational effects in Q. ilex offspring and the influence of these effects on plant fitness is crucial to improve the management and regeneration of this declining species. Full article
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Article
Short-Term Dynamics of Vegetation Diversity and Aboveground Biomass of Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. Forests after Heavy Windstorm Disturbance
Forests 2021, 12(1), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010097 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 769
Abstract
Although forest disturbances have become more frequent and severe due to ongoing climate change, our understanding of post-disturbance development of vegetation and tree–herb layer interactions remains limited. An extreme windstorm, which occurred on 19 November 2004, destroyed Picea abies (L.) H. Karst dominated [...] Read more.
Although forest disturbances have become more frequent and severe due to ongoing climate change, our understanding of post-disturbance development of vegetation and tree–herb layer interactions remains limited. An extreme windstorm, which occurred on 19 November 2004, destroyed Picea abies (L.) H. Karst dominated forests in the High Tatra Mts. Here, we studied short-term changes in diversity, species composition, and aboveground biomass of trees and herb layer vegetation, including mutual relationships that elucidate tree–herb interactions during post-disturbance succession. Assessment of species composition and tree biomass measurements were performed at 50 sample plots (4 × 4 m) along two transects 12, 14, and 16 years after the forest destruction. Heights and stem base diameters of about 730 trees were measured and subsequently used for the calculation of aboveground tree biomass using species-specific allometric relationships. Aboveground biomass of herb layer was quantified at 300 subplots (20 × 20 cm) by destructive sampling. Species richness and spatial vegetation heterogeneity did not significantly change, and species composition exhibited small changes in accordance with expected successional trajectories. While aboveground tree biomass increased by about 190%, biomass of annual herb shoots decreased by about 68% and biomass of perennial herb shoots was stable during the studied period. The contribution of trees to total aboveground biomass increased from 83% to 97%. After 16 years of forest stands recovery, tree biomass represented approximately 13% of forest biomass before the disturbance. Herb layer biomass, particularly the biomass of annual herb shoots, was more closely related to tree cover than to tree biomass and its decline could be assigned to gradual tree growth. Our study provides clear evidence that short-term successional processes in post-disturbance vegetation are much better detectable by biomass than by diversity or compositional measures and emphasized the importance of light conditions in tree–herb competitive interactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonantecedent Stress Impacts on Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
On the Consequences of Using Moving Window Segmentation to Analyze the Structural Stand Heterogeneity and Debatable Patchiness of Old-Growth Temperate Forests
Forests 2021, 12(1), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010096 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 605
Abstract
(1) Background: Early research in natural forests on decennia implanted conviction concerning the patchy patterns of their structural heterogeneity. Due to the variety of methodological approaches applied, verification of this fundamental assumption remains open. The aim of this study was to discuss the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Early research in natural forests on decennia implanted conviction concerning the patchy patterns of their structural heterogeneity. Due to the variety of methodological approaches applied, verification of this fundamental assumption remains open. The aim of this study was to discuss the methodological limitations associated with the use of moving windows with overlap for the delineation of homogeneous patch mosaics in forest ecosystems. (2) Methods: The “patchiness” hypothesis was tested in six old-growth forests formed by Abies alba Mill., Fagus sylvatica L., and Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. localized in Bosnia and Herzegovina and southern Poland. In each stand, the tree diameter at breast height (dbh) was recorded on circular sample plots of 154 m2 regularly distributed in a 20 × 20 m lattice over an area of 10 ha. (3) Results: Computer simulations showed that patch classification based on overlapping windows results in apparent patchiness, even for completely randomized tree distributions. Analyses carried out on the empirical data indicated prevalent random patterns of structural heterogeneity. (4) Conclusions: Patchiness is not a universal feature of the investigated forest communities. The size of the moving window and the noise-smoothing procedure exert strong effects on the biasedness of patch classification, the frequency of structural types, and the mean patch size. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Characterizing Growing Season Length of Subtropical Coniferous Forests with a Phenological Model
Forests 2021, 12(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010095 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
Understanding plant phenological change is of great concern in the context of global climate change. Phenological models can aid in understanding and predicting growing season changes and can be parameterized with gross primary production (GPP) estimated using the eddy covariance (EC) technique. This [...] Read more.
Understanding plant phenological change is of great concern in the context of global climate change. Phenological models can aid in understanding and predicting growing season changes and can be parameterized with gross primary production (GPP) estimated using the eddy covariance (EC) technique. This study used nine years of EC-derived GPP data from three mature subtropical longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States with differing soil water holding capacity in combination with site-specific micrometeorological data to parameterize a photosynthesis-based phenological model. We evaluated how weather conditions and prescribed fire led to variation in the ecosystem phenological processes. The results suggest that soil water availability had an effect on phenology, and greater soil water availability was associated with a longer growing season (LOS). We also observed that prescribed fire, a common forest management activity in the region, had a limited impact on phenological processes. Dormant season fire had no significant effect on phenological processes by site, but we observed differences in the start of the growing season (SOS) between fire and non-fire years. Fire delayed SOS by 10 d ± 5 d (SE), and this effect was greater with higher soil water availability, extending SOS by 18 d on average. Fire was also associated with increased sensitivity of spring phenology to radiation and air temperature. We found that interannual climate change and periodic weather anomalies (flood, short-term drought, and long-term drought), controlled annual ecosystem phenological processes more than prescribed fire. When water availability increased following short-term summer drought, the growing season was extended. With future climate change, subtropical areas of the Southeastern US are expected to experience more frequent short-term droughts, which could shorten the region’s growing season and lead to a reduction in the longleaf pine ecosystem’s carbon sequestration capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
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Article
Anamorphic Site Index Curves for Central Appalachian Red Spruce in West Virginia, USA
Forests 2021, 12(1), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010094 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 540
Abstract
Traditional site index curves are frequently produced for shade-intolerant species but are scarce for shade-tolerant species. Red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) can be found in three distinct geographic regions (northern, central, and southern) within the Appalachian Mountains. The one commonly used set [...] Read more.
Traditional site index curves are frequently produced for shade-intolerant species but are scarce for shade-tolerant species. Red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) can be found in three distinct geographic regions (northern, central, and southern) within the Appalachian Mountains. The one commonly used set of red spruce site index curves is over ninety years old. A definite need exists for a modern, regionally applicable set of site index curves. This research sampled 83 plots randomly located in the central Appalachians of West Virginia. Three sets of anamorphic site index curves were created after careful examination of height models built using Chapman-Richards and Meyer functions. One set of curves was constructed with traditional age height pairs. The second utilized a suppression-corrected age and height pair. The third set examined diameter at breast height (DBH) and height pairs. Fit statistics indicated better performance for the suppression-corrected age–height pair site index and the DBH–height pair site index versus the traditional age–height pair models. Site index conversion equations were also investigated for the red spruce age-corrected site index. Linear regression was used to determine significant geographic and climate variables and the utility of including site index values for red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britton) in the model to predict red spruce site index. Significant models were found for varying combinations of species site index, climate, and geographic variables with R2adj in the range of 0.139–0.455. These new site index curves and conversion equations should provide utility for site productivity estimation and growth and yield modeling while aiding in restoration efforts for this important central Appalachian species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Inventory, Modeling and Remote Sensing)
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Article
Functional Ecology of Forest, Heath, and Shrub Savannah Alternate States in Eastern Canada
Forests 2021, 12(1), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010093 - 16 Jan 2021
Viewed by 738
Abstract
In eastern Canada, alternation of wildfire regime due to fire suppression creates alternate vegetation states converting black spruce forest to heath and shrub savannah (SS). We compared the taxonomic diversity (TD) and functional diversity (FD) of post-fire forest, heath, and SS alternate states [...] Read more.
In eastern Canada, alternation of wildfire regime due to fire suppression creates alternate vegetation states converting black spruce forest to heath and shrub savannah (SS). We compared the taxonomic diversity (TD) and functional diversity (FD) of post-fire forest, heath, and SS alternate states to determine if community FD can explain their persistence. We hypothesized that (i) species diversity (TD and FD) would be the highest in forest followed by SS and heath due to decreased interspecific competition and niche differentiation, (ii) differences between TD and FD indices would be greater in communities with high TD in forest due to high trait differentiation and richness, and (iii) changes in community trait values would indicate niche limitations and resource availability. We conducted this study in Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland, Canada. We calculated functional dispersion (alpha FD), functional pairwise dissimilarity (beta FD), Shannon’s diversity (alpha TD), and Bray–Curtis dissimilarity (beta TD) from species cover. We used five functional traits (specific root length, specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content, height, and seed mass) related to nutrient acquisition, productivity, and growth. We found lower beta diversity in forest than heath and SS; forest also had higher species diversity and greater breadth in niche space utilization. SS was functionally similar to heath but lower than forest in functional dispersion and functional divergence. It had the highest functional richness and evenness. There was no difference in functional evenness between forest and heath. Functional beta diversity was the highest in forest, and did not differ between heath and SS. Resource acquisition and availability was the greatest in forest and the lowest in heath. We suspect that this might be due to forest having the highest functional trait turnover and niche utilization. We conclude that alternate vegetation states originating from alterations to the natural fire regime negatively impact ecosystem function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Relationship between Soil Fungi and Seedling Density in the Vicinity of Adult Conspecifics in an Arid Desert Forest
Forests 2021, 12(1), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010092 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 661
Abstract
Research Highlights: 1. Soil fungi have a higher influence on seedling density compared to soil environmental factors; 2. Host-specific pathogens and beneficial fungi affect seeding density via different influencing mechanisms. Background and Objectives: The growth and development of seedlings are the key processes [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: 1. Soil fungi have a higher influence on seedling density compared to soil environmental factors; 2. Host-specific pathogens and beneficial fungi affect seeding density via different influencing mechanisms. Background and Objectives: The growth and development of seedlings are the key processes that affect forest regeneration and maintain community dynamics. However, the influencing factors of seedling growth around their adult conspecifics are not clear in arid desert forests. Probing the intrinsic relations among soil fungi, soil environmental factors (pH, water content, salinity, and nutrition), and seedling density will improve our understanding of forest development and provide a theoretical basis for forest management and protection. Materials and Methods: Four experimental plot types, depending on the distance to adult conspecifics, were set in an arid desert forest. Soil environmental factors, the diversity and composition of the soil fungal community, and the seedlings’ density and height were measured in the four experimental plot types, and their mutual relations were analyzed. Results: Seedling density as well as the diversity and composition of the soil fungal community varied significantly among the four plot types (p < 0.05). Soil environmental factors, especially soil salinity, pH, and soil water content, had significant influences on the seedling density and diversity and composition of the soil fungal community. The contribution of soil fungi (72.61%) to the variation in seedling density was much higher than the soil environmental factors (27.39%). The contribution of detrimental fungi to the variation in seedling density was higher than the beneficial fungi. Conclusions: Soil fungi mostly affected the distribution of seedling density in the vicinity of adult conspecifics in an arid desert forest. The distribution of seedling density in the vicinity of adults was mainly influenced by the detrimental fungi, while the adults in the periphery area was mainly influenced by the beneficial fungi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
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Review
Non-Destructive Lumber and Engineered Pine Products Research in the Gulf South U.S. 2005–2020
Forests 2021, 12(1), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010091 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 585
Abstract
This review primarily describes nondestructive evaluation (NDE) work at Mississippi State University during the 2005–2020 time interval. Overall, NDE is becoming increasingly important as a means of maximizing and optimizing the value (economic, engineering, utilitarian, etc.) of every tree that comes from the [...] Read more.
This review primarily describes nondestructive evaluation (NDE) work at Mississippi State University during the 2005–2020 time interval. Overall, NDE is becoming increasingly important as a means of maximizing and optimizing the value (economic, engineering, utilitarian, etc.) of every tree that comes from the forest. For the most part, it focuses on southern pine structural lumber, but other species such as red pine, spruce, Douglas fir, red oak, and white oak and other products such as engineered composites, mass timber, non-structural lumber, and others are included where appropriate. Much of the work has been completed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory as well as the Agricultural Research Service with the overall intent of improving lumber and wood products standards and valuation. To increase the future impacts and adoption of this NDE-related work, wherever possible graduate students have contributed to the research. As such, a stream of trained professionals is a secondary output of these works though it is not specifically detailed herein. Full article
Article
Wood Products for Cultural Uses: Sustaining Native Resilience and Vital Lifeways in Southeast Alaska, USA
Forests 2021, 12(1), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010090 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1359
Abstract
Ongoing revitalization of the >5000-year-old tradition of using trees for vital culture and heritage activities including carving and weaving affirms Alaska Native resilience. However, support for these sustained cultural practices is complicated by environmental and political factors. Carving projects typically require western redcedar [...] Read more.
Ongoing revitalization of the >5000-year-old tradition of using trees for vital culture and heritage activities including carving and weaving affirms Alaska Native resilience. However, support for these sustained cultural practices is complicated by environmental and political factors. Carving projects typically require western redcedar (Thuja plicata) or yellow cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis) trees more than 450 years of age—a tree life stage and growth rate inconsistent with current even-aged forest management strategies. Herein, we qualitatively assess the significance of wood products to rural communities and Indigenous cultures with implications for natural heritage sustainability. In partnership with Alaska Native Tribes, we engaged local youth programs to lead community discussions throughout southeast Alaska to provide specificity to the suite of cultural activities linked to regional forest lands. Results from 58 discussions across 11 southeast Alaska communities (primarily Alaska Native participants) highlighted the cultural importance of forest products including totem poles, dugout canoes, longhouses, woven hats, and woven baskets. Findings indicated spiritual well-being, health, education, tourism, and livelihood significance attributed to these products. Participant-suggested management strategies for increasing supply and expanding access to trees on public lands included: engaging local artisans in forest planning, selecting and delivering specific trees to roads as part of ongoing timber sales, allowing bark removal prior to forest-timber sales, simplifying the tree-acquisition permit process, and setting aside cultural forest groves to sustain trees seven generations into the future. By facilitating discussions, this study fostered relevant place-based youth and community engagement, benefiting youth and enhancing community knowledge transfer while simultaneously summarizing the significance of forest products for resilient culture and heritage activities. Forest management plans aiming to support Alaska Native lifeways may benefit from improved understanding of Indigenous perspectives and worldviews; designation of “culture market values” and “culture targets” can help deliver a broad array of ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Ecosystem Services and Products)
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Article
Increased Litter Greatly Enhancing Soil Respiration in Betula platyphylla Forests of Permafrost Region, Northeast China
Forests 2021, 12(1), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010089 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 540
Abstract
The change of litter input can affect soil respiration (Rs) by influencing the availability of soil organic carbon and nutrients, regulating soil microenvironments, thus resulting in a profound influence on soil carbon cycle of the forest ecosystem. We conducted an aboveground litterfall manipulation [...] Read more.
The change of litter input can affect soil respiration (Rs) by influencing the availability of soil organic carbon and nutrients, regulating soil microenvironments, thus resulting in a profound influence on soil carbon cycle of the forest ecosystem. We conducted an aboveground litterfall manipulation experiment in different-aged Betula platyphylla forests (25-, 40- and 61-year-old) of the permafrost region, located in the northeast of China, during May to October in 2018, with each stand treated with doubling litter (litter addition, DL), litter exclusion (no-litter, NL) and control litter (CK). Our results indicated that Rs decreased under NL treatment compared with CK treatment. The effect size lessened with the increase in the stand age; the greatest reduction was found for young Betula platyphylla forest (24.46% for 25-year-old stand) and tended to stabilize with the growth of forest with the reduction of 15.65% and 15.23% for 40-and 61- year-old stands, respectively. Meanwhile, under DL treatment, Rs increased by 27.38%, 23.83% and 23.58% on 25-, 40- and 61-year-old stands, respectively. Our results also showed that the increase caused by DL treatment was larger than the reduction caused by NL treatment, leading to a priming effect, especially on 40- and 61-year-old stands. The change in litter input was the principal factor affecting the change of Rs under litter manipulation. The soil temperature was also a main factor affecting the contribution rate of litter to Rs of different-aged stands, which had a significant positive exponential correlation with Rs. This suggests that there is a significant relationship between litter and Rs, which consequently influences the soil carbon cycle in Betula platyphylla forests of the permafrost region, Northeast China. Our finding indicated the increased litter enhanced the Rs in Betula platyphylla forest, which may consequently increase the carbon emission in a warming climate in the future. It is of great importance for future forest management in the permafrost region, Northeast China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
The Strong and the Stronger: The Effects of Increasing Ozone and Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations in Pollen of Different Forest Species
Forests 2021, 12(1), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010088 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 662
Abstract
The knowledge of pollen sensitivity and tolerance to stress factors such as air pollution is important for forest sustainability, ensuring the most efficient production with the highest benefits and lowest resource losses. This study intended to evaluate the influence of common air pollutants [...] Read more.
The knowledge of pollen sensitivity and tolerance to stress factors such as air pollution is important for forest sustainability, ensuring the most efficient production with the highest benefits and lowest resource losses. This study intended to evaluate the influence of common air pollutants in four forest trees species, Betula pendula Roth, Corylus avellana L., Acer negundo L. and Quercus robur L., through a comparative analysis at the same experimental conditions. We aimed to investigate the effect that may occur in pollen fertility, protein content, oxidative stress and wall composition after exposure in vitro to ozone and nitrogen dioxide at concentration levels for vegetation protection in Europe. Our results suggest changes in pollen viability, protein content and differential sensitivity related to ROS synthesis, NADPH oxidase activity, as well as in wall composition. The results indicate that NO2 exposure affected more the pollen species studied mostly at the highest concentration exposure. As for ozone, there were less significant differences between samples; however, a different behavior occurs in O3 expositions, where the most influence happens at the legal limit for vegetation protection in Europe. Our study showed that significant pollen functions could be compromised even at common air pollutant’s concentrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tree Pollen and Floral Biology)
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Article
The Influence of Thickness on the Tensile Strength of Finnish Birch Veneers under Varying Load Angles
Forests 2021, 12(1), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010087 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 655
Abstract
The development of high-performance, veneer-based wood composites is a topic of increasing importance due to the high design flexibility and the comparable mechanical performance to solid wood. Part of this improved mechanical performance can be contributed to the size effect present in wood. [...] Read more.
The development of high-performance, veneer-based wood composites is a topic of increasing importance due to the high design flexibility and the comparable mechanical performance to solid wood. Part of this improved mechanical performance can be contributed to the size effect present in wood. Based on previous findings in the literature, this size effect can be either strengthening or weakening. The presented study investigates the influence of thickness and load angle on the tensile strength and tensile stiffness of peeled veneers compared to thin sawn timber. Veneers with thicknesses of 0.5 ± 0.05 mm, 1.0 ± 0.05 mm and 1.5 ± 0.05 mm as well as sawn wood with thicknesses of 1.5 ± 0.1 mm, 3.0 ± 0.1 mm and 5.0 ± 0.1 mm were tested in tension under different load angles (0°, 45° and 90°). The results only partly confirm a size effect for strength parallel to the grain. The strength perpendicular to the grain increased significantly between 0.5 mm and 1.5 mm, with a significant decrease between 1.5 mm and 5.0 mm. The presence of lathe checks diminished the strength perpendicular to the grain of the veneers by about 70% compared to solid wood, partly overshadowing a possible strengthening effect. It was concluded that a transition from a strengthening to a weakening behaviour lies in the range of multiple millimetres, but further investigations are needed to quantify this zone more precisely. The presented results provide a useful basis for the development of veneer-based wood composites with a performance driven layer-thickness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Performance of Wood and Wood-Based Materials)
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Article
Assessment of SITE for CO2 and Energy Fluxes Simulations in a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (Caatinga Ecosystem)
Forests 2021, 12(1), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010086 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1088
Abstract
Although seasonally dry tropical forests are considered invaluable to a greater understanding of global carbon fluxes, they remain as one of the ecosystems with the fewest observations. In this context, ecological and ecosystem models can be used as alternative methods to answer questions [...] Read more.
Although seasonally dry tropical forests are considered invaluable to a greater understanding of global carbon fluxes, they remain as one of the ecosystems with the fewest observations. In this context, ecological and ecosystem models can be used as alternative methods to answer questions related to the interactions between the biosphere and the atmosphere in dry forests. The objective of this study was to calibrate the simple tropical ecosystem model (SITE) and evaluate its performance in characterizing the annual and seasonal behavior of the energy and carbon fluxes in a preserved fragment of the Caatinga biome. The SITE model exhibited reasonable applicability to simulate variations in CO2 and energy fluxes (r > 0.7). Results showed that the calibrated set of vegetation parameters adequately simulated gross primary productivity (GPP) and net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE). The SITE model was also able to accurately retrieve the time at which daily GPP and NEE peaked. The model was able to simulate the partition of the available energy into sensible and latent heat fluxes and soil heat flux when the calibrated parameters were used. Therefore, changes in the dynamics of dry forests should be taken into consideration in the modeling of ecosystem carbon balances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Threat Degree Classification According to Habitat Quality: A Case Study from the Czech Republic
Forests 2021, 12(1), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010085 - 14 Jan 2021
Viewed by 583
Abstract
Important sources of information in the field of nature protection are red lists, which define the degree of threat to individual species. In practice, an assessment of the quality of the habitats in which a species occurs is used to a very limited [...] Read more.
Important sources of information in the field of nature protection are red lists, which define the degree of threat to individual species. In practice, an assessment of the quality of the habitats in which a species occurs is used to a very limited extent in the preparation of red lists of vascular plants. At the same time, this parameter is usually essential to determine their degree of threat. At present, habitat quality data are available for the territory of the Czech Republic; these were obtained during Natura 2000 habitat mapping in the years 2000–2019. In this paper we propose the use of habitat quality data to determine the degree of threat to selected species of vascular plants and to compile a national red list. Nine plant species from three habitat types were selected for this study: meadows and wetland habitats in the alluvium of large rivers (Cardamine matthioli Moretti, Gratiola officinalis L., Teucrium scordium L.), fen habitats (Carex appropinquata Schumach., C. cespitosa L., C. lepidocarpa Tausch) and ecotone shrub habitats (Rosa agrestis Savi, R. micrantha Borrer ex Sm., R. spinosissima L.). For these species, the quality of the habitats in which they occur was analysed and grid maps were created, which present (1) the level of knowledge of habitat quality and (2) the average habitat quality. The results were compared with the degree of threat in the current national red list. Habitat quality analysis should also be used in the future to detect threatened species, which today are outside the red list and this assessment may be useful in compiling another updated red list of vascular plants of the Czech Republic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Does Juvenile Stand Management Matter? Regional Scenarios of the Long-Term Effects on Wood Production
Forests 2021, 12(1), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010084 - 14 Jan 2021
Viewed by 702
Abstract
We analysed the regional level effects of juvenile stand management (early cleaning and precommercial thinning), shortly termed tending on wood production and the profitability of forest management. Altogether ca. 0.4 million hectares of juvenile stands from two significant forestry regions of Finland, South [...] Read more.
We analysed the regional level effects of juvenile stand management (early cleaning and precommercial thinning), shortly termed tending on wood production and the profitability of forest management. Altogether ca. 0.4 million hectares of juvenile stands from two significant forestry regions of Finland, South and North Savo, were examined. We used plot-level data of the 11th National Forest Inventory to represent the current status of juvenile stands in the study area, and the Motti stand simulator to predict the future developments of those stands for the next 100 years. We applied three scenarios: (i) Timely tending, (ii) delayed tending, and (iii) no tending, to examine differences between these alternative levels of juvenile stand management. The results showed the benefits of tending at a regional level. Timely tending was the most profitable option when low or modest interest rates (2–3%) were applied in the assessment. Even a short delay in tending clearly increased the tending costs. Delaying and neglecting tending resulted in significant losses, especially in sawlog removals and stumpage earnings. The financial gain from tending was the highest on fertile sites. Due to the high growth rate of trees, the situation may change very quickly on such sites. For the operational forestry, this means that fertile sites should have a high priority when conducting timely tendings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
Developing Growth Models of Stand Volume for Subtropical Forests in Karst Areas: A Case Study in the Guizhou Plateau
Forests 2021, 12(1), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010083 - 14 Jan 2021
Viewed by 514
Abstract
Forest stand volume is one of the key forest structural attributes in estimating and forecasting ecosystem productivity and carbon stock. However, studies on growth modeling and environmental influences on stand volume are still rare to date, especially in subtropical forests in karst areas, [...] Read more.
Forest stand volume is one of the key forest structural attributes in estimating and forecasting ecosystem productivity and carbon stock. However, studies on growth modeling and environmental influences on stand volume are still rare to date, especially in subtropical forests in karst areas, which are characterized by a complex species composition and are important in the global carbon budget. In this paper, we developed growth models of stand volume for all the dominant tree species (groups) (DTSG) in a subtropical karst area, the Guizhou Plateau based on an investigation of the effects of various environmental factors on stand volume. The Richards growth function, space-for-time substitution and zonal-hierarchical modeling method were applied in the model fitting, and multiple indices were used in the model evaluation. The results showed that the climatic factors of annual temperature and precipitation, as well as the site factors of stand origin, elevation, slope gradient, topsoil thickness, site quality degree, rocky desertification type and rocky desertification degree, have significant influences on stand volume, and the topsoil thickness and site quality degree have the strongest positive effect. A total of 959 growth equations of stand volume were fitted with a five-level stand classifier (DTSG–climatic zone–site quality degree–stand origin–rocky desertification type). All the growth equations were qualified, because all passed the TRE test (≤30%), and the majority of the R2 ≥ 0.50, above 70% of the RMSE were between 5.0 and 20.0, and above 80% of the P ≥ 75%. These findings provide updated knowledge about the environmental effect on the stand volume growth of subtropical forests in karst areas, and the developed stand volume growth models are convenient for forest management and planning, further contributing to the study of forest carbon storage assessments and global carbon cycling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Inventory, Modeling and Remote Sensing)
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Article
Norway Spruce Seedlings from an Eastern Baltic Provenance Show Tolerance to Simulated Drought
Forests 2021, 12(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010082 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 609
Abstract
In Northern Europe, an increase in heterogeneity of summer precipitation regime will subject forests to water deficit and drought. This is particularly topical for Norway spruce (Picea abies Karst.), which is a drought sensitive, yet economically important species. Nevertheless, local populations still [...] Read more.
In Northern Europe, an increase in heterogeneity of summer precipitation regime will subject forests to water deficit and drought. This is particularly topical for Norway spruce (Picea abies Karst.), which is a drought sensitive, yet economically important species. Nevertheless, local populations still might be highly plastic and tolerant, supporting their commercial application. Accordingly, the tolerance of Norway spruce seedlings from an Eastern Baltic provenance (western part of Latvia) to artificial drought according to soil type was assessed in a shelter experiment. To simulate drought, seedlings were subjected to reduced amounts (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%) of naturally occurring precipitation (irrigation intensity). Three soil types (oligotrophic mineral, mesotrophic mineral, and peat) were tested. Seedling height, chlorophyll a concentration, and fluorescence parameters were measured. Both growth and photochemical reactions were affected by the irrigation intensity, the effect of which experienced an interacted with soil type, implying complex controls of drought sensitivity. Seedlings were more sensitive to irrigation intensity on mesotrophic mineral soil, as suggested by growth and photosynthetic activity. However, the responses were nonlinear, as the highest performance (growth and fluorescence parameters) of seedlings occurred in response to intermediate drought. On peat soil, which had the highest water-bearing capacity, an inverse response to irrigation intensity was observed. In general, fluorescence parameters were more sensitive and showed more immediate reaction to soil water deficit than concentration of chlorophyll on mesotrophic mineral and peat soils, while the latter was a better indicator of seedling performance on oligotrophic soil. This indicated considerable plastic acclimation and hence tolerance of seedlings from the local Norway spruce population to drought, though drought sensitivity is age-dependent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
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Article
Plasticity of Leaf Traits of Juglans regia L. f. luodianense Liu et Xu Seedlings Under Different Light Conditions in Karst Habitats
Forests 2021, 12(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010081 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 678
Abstract
This study examined the effects of light intensity on the plasticity of the leaves of Juglans regia f. luodianense seedlings in karst habitat and how they respond to changes in light intensity. The light intensity of 1-year-old seedlings of J. regia f. luodianense [...] Read more.
This study examined the effects of light intensity on the plasticity of the leaves of Juglans regia f. luodianense seedlings in karst habitat and how they respond to changes in light intensity. The light intensity of 1-year-old seedlings of J. regia f. luodianense in different niches in a karst area was set as 100% (bare land), 75% (forest margin), 50% (forest gap), and 25% (under forest) of natural light. The material harvested after four months was compared to analyze the differences in various morphological characteristics, biomass allocation, and physiological characteristics of the leaves of seedlings of J. regia f. luodianense, and a comprehensive evaluation of the plasticity indexes was conducted. The results showed that under moderate (50%) full light intensity, the leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf biomass, and chlorophyll content increased, and improved photosynthesis and promoted the accumulation of free proline content and peroxidase (POD) activity. The accumulation of malondialdehyde was also the lowest in this treatment, indicating that the plants had the strongest adaptability under this light intensity. Moreover, under high (75%) full light intensity, the above functional characteristics of plants showed good performance. Under low (25%) full light intensity, plants also had higher specific leaf area, leaf biomass, and photosynthetic parameters. However, under full light, the cell membrane permeability decreased, the chlorophyll accumulation was the lowest, and the photosynthetic index was seriously inhibited. Our results showed that the plasticity of morphological characters was greater than that of biomass allocation and physiological characters; POD activity and stomatal conductance were the highest, followed by leaf area and chlorophyll b, whereas the plasticity of palisade tissue/sponge tissue thickness and lower-epidermis thickness were the lowest. In summary, there are evident differences in the sensitivity and regulation mechanisms of morphological characteristics, biomass allocation, and physiological indices of the seedling leaves of J. regia f. luodianense in response to light intensity. During the stage of seedling establishment, only the plants in the bare ground under full light can be induced to show obvious inhibition of phenotypic traits. In contrast, the plants in the forest margins and gaps and under the forest habitats under light intensity can regulate their own characteristics to maintain their growth and development. The wide light range and strong plasticity of the species might be two of the important reasons for its existence in a highly heterogeneous karst habitat. Full article
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Communication
Non-Native Earthworms Invade Forest Soils in Northern Maine, USA
Forests 2021, 12(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010080 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1104
Abstract
Non-native earthworms can cause abrupt changes in forest ecosystems by altering soil properties and depleting or redistributing soil carbon (C) stocks. The forests of Northern Maine are often perceived as having winters that are too harsh to support earthworm populations and that earthworms [...] Read more.
Non-native earthworms can cause abrupt changes in forest ecosystems by altering soil properties and depleting or redistributing soil carbon (C) stocks. The forests of Northern Maine are often perceived as having winters that are too harsh to support earthworm populations and that earthworms are restricted to more southerly regions. In this study, we report the discovery of European earthworms at two research sites in Northern Maine. At one site, earthworms were only found across a portion of the forest, and the median organic (O) horizon C stock in the area with earthworms was 34% less than that of areas without earthworms. At a second site, earthworms were found across the entire 60-ha forest and the median O horizon C stock was 39% less than that of a similar forest without earthworms. Consistent with reports from other regions, areas with earthworms had no or minimal eluvial (E) horizons, while earthworm-free locations always had E horizons. Earthworm presence was always associated with a topsoil (A) horizon, reflecting mechanical mixing and organic matter processing by earthworms. This is one of the first reports of non-native earthworm presence in Northern Maine forests and monitoring changes in soil C will be important for determining rates of C sequestration in these forests. Warmer winter temperatures, particularly winter minimums, and greater annual precipitation will likely increase the success of new earthworm introductions across Northern Maine forests. Management actions that limit the transport of earthworms into earthworm-free areas should be carefully evaluated to minimize the potential for new introductions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Article
New Topsoil Sampler for the Assessment and Monitoring of Forest Soil Contamination
Forests 2021, 12(1), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010079 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 649
Abstract
The forest litter and underlying mineral topsoil are typically sampled and analyzed separately although they are in a dynamic balance, which ensures macro- and microelement cycling in the forest ecosystem, including the flux and accumulation of xenobiotics in the contaminated sites. Although the [...] Read more.
The forest litter and underlying mineral topsoil are typically sampled and analyzed separately although they are in a dynamic balance, which ensures macro- and microelement cycling in the forest ecosystem, including the flux and accumulation of xenobiotics in the contaminated sites. Although the national legal regulations specify single limits of element concentration for the entire “topsoil” layer, irrespectively of the kind of materials resting at the earth surface down to the specified depth, the direct analysis of bicomponent forest topsoil (litter + mineral topsoil) was problematic because of the lack of a suitable sampler. The paper presents a comparative analysis of Cu, Pb, and Zn concentrations in the forest topsoil layers (0–25 cm), sampled using a new construction sampler invented for a joint collection of the litter layer and underlying mineral layer (to the specified depth). Litter samples (using a steel frame), mineral topsoil samples (0–25 cm, using gouge auger after litter removal), and mixed topsoil samples (0–25 cm, including litter) were collected in 16 replicates from four variably contaminated plots (copper mining and smelting area) afforested with poplar or pine. Pseudo-total concentration of Cu, Pb, and Zn was analyzed after sample digestion in aqua regia. The concentration of elements in the samples consisting of jointly collected litter and mineral layer was noticeably higher than in the samples consisting of the mineral topsoil only, which confirmed the effective inclusion of the litter. The concentrations of trace elements measured in the samples of jointly collected litter and mineral topsoil did not differ (NIR Fisher test at p < 0.05) from the concentrations calculated using the data for litter and mineral soil separately collected and analyzed, which confirmed the usefulness of the new sampler for reliable collection of the forest topsoil samples without skipping any material which may influence the results of soil contamination assessment and risk assessment. Full article
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