Influence of Natural and Anthropogenic Linear Canopy Openings on Forest Structural Patterns Investigated Using LiDAR
FPInnovations, 570 Boulevard Saint-Jean, Pointe-Claire, QC H9R 3J9, Canada
Centre for Forest Research, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal, P.O. Box 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, 1055 rue du PEPS, P.O. Box 10380, Quebec City, QC G1V 4C7, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(9), 540; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090540
Received: 20 July 2018 / Revised: 27 August 2018 / Accepted: 30 August 2018 / Published: 2 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Characterization and Regionalization of Disturbance Regimes Affecting Forests)
In much of the commercial boreal forest, dense road networks and energy corridors have been developed to access natural resources with unintended and poorly understood effects on surrounding forest structure. In this study, we compare the effects of anthropogenic and natural linear openings on surrounding forest conditions in black spruce stands (gap fraction, tree and sapling height, and density). Forest structure within a 100 m band around the edges of anthropogenic (roads and power lines), natural linear openings (streams), and a reference black spruce forest was measured by identifying individual stems and canopy gaps on recent high density airborne LiDAR canopy height models. CUSUM curves were used to assess the distance of edge influence. Forests surrounding anthropogenic openings were found to be gappier, less dense, and have smaller trees than those around natural openings. Forests were denser around natural and anthropogenic linear openings than in the reference forest with edge effects observed up to 24–75 m and 18–54 m, respectively, into the forest. A high density of saplings in the gappier forests surrounding anthropogenic openings may eventually lead to a higher forest biomass in the zone area surrounding roads as is currently observed around natural openings.