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Article

Earthworms as an Ecological Indicator of Soil Recovery after Mechanized Logging Operations in Mixed Beech Forests

1
Department of Forestry and Forest Economics, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Alborz, Karaj 999067, Iran
2
Department of Reclamation of Arid & Mountainous Regions, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Alborz, Karaj 999067, Iran
3
Department of Forestry, Khalkhal Branch, Islamic Azad University, Khalkhal 56817-31367, Iran
4
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Università degli Studi di Padova, 35020 Legnaro, Padova, Italy
5
Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2021, 12(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010018
Received: 19 November 2020 / Revised: 17 December 2020 / Accepted: 21 December 2020 / Published: 25 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Forest Landscapes: Impact on Soil Properties and Functions)
Soil damage caused by logging operations conducted to obtain and maximize economic benefits has been established as having long-term effects on forest soil quality and productivity. However, a comprehensive study of the impact of logging operations on earthworms as a criterion for soil recovery has never been conducted in the Hyrcanian forests of Iran. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in soil biological properties (earthworm density and biomass) and its recovery process under the influence of traffic intensity, slope and soil depth in various intervals according to age after logging operations. Soil properties were compared among abandoned skid trails with different ages (i.e., 3, 10, 20, and 25 years) and an undisturbed area. The results showed that earthworm density and biomass in the high traffic intensity and slope class of 20–30% at the 10–20 cm depth of the soil had the lowest value compared to the other treatments. Twenty-five years after the logging operations, the earthworm density at soil depth of 0–10 and 10–20 cm was 28.4% (0.48 ind. m−2) and 38.6% (0.35 ind. m−2), which were less than those of the undisturbed area, respectively. Meanwhile, the earthworm biomass at a soil depth of 0–10 and 10–20 cm was 30.5% (2.05 mg m−2) and 40.5% (1.54 mg m−2) less than the values of the undisturbed area, respectively. The earthworm density and biomass were positively correlated with total porosity, organic carbon and nitrogen content, while negatively correlated with soil bulk density and C/N ratio. According to the results, 25 years after logging operations, the earthworm density and biomass on the skid trails were recovered, but they were significantly different with the undisturbed area. Therefore, full recovery of soil biological properties (i.e., earthworm density and biomass) takes more than 25 years. The conclusions of our study reveal that the effects of logging operations on soil properties are of great significance, and our understanding of the mechanism of soil change and recovery demand that harvesting operations be extensively and properly implemented. View Full-Text
Keywords: earthworms; skid trails; traffic intensity; forest soil recovery; soil biological properties earthworms; skid trails; traffic intensity; forest soil recovery; soil biological properties
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sohrabi, H.; Jourgholami, M.; Jafari, M.; Tavankar, F.; Venanzi, R.; Picchio, R. Earthworms as an Ecological Indicator of Soil Recovery after Mechanized Logging Operations in Mixed Beech Forests. Forests 2021, 12, 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010018

AMA Style

Sohrabi H, Jourgholami M, Jafari M, Tavankar F, Venanzi R, Picchio R. Earthworms as an Ecological Indicator of Soil Recovery after Mechanized Logging Operations in Mixed Beech Forests. Forests. 2021; 12(1):18. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010018

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sohrabi, Hadi, Meghdad Jourgholami, Mohammad Jafari, Farzam Tavankar, Rachele Venanzi, and Rodolfo Picchio. 2021. "Earthworms as an Ecological Indicator of Soil Recovery after Mechanized Logging Operations in Mixed Beech Forests" Forests 12, no. 1: 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010018

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