Special Issue "Patterns of Plant Species Diversity under Different Disturbance Regimes"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 5 August 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Antonio Gazol
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC), 50192 Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: forest ecology; plant diversity; functional traits; woody plants; tree growth

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant species diversity influences forest functions and the ecosystems services they provide. Natural disturbances play an important role in the creation and maintenance of forest diversity. However, global change is expected to alter disturbance regimes, creating novel conditions for forest ecosystems and their diversity. Thus, a deeper understanding of how forest diversity relates to different disturbances across regions is required to anticipate the response of forest diversity to altered disturbance regimes. Particularly, there is an urgent need to understand how the diversity of canopy as well as understory taxonomic and functional species responds to altered disturbance regimes, how disturbances influence above- and below-ground diversity linkages, and whether forest resilience to disturbances depends on diversity.

Dr. Antonio Gazol
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • biodiversity
  • biotic interactions
  • functional diversity
  • fire
  • microbial soil community
  • species richness
  • understory
  • windstorm

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
The Role of Canopy Cover Dynamics over a Decade of Changes in the Understory of an Atlantic Beech-Oak Forest
Forests 2021, 12(7), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070938 - 16 Jul 2021
Viewed by 229
Abstract
The understory of temperate forests harbour most of the plant species diversity present in these ecosystems. The maintenance of this diversity is strongly dependent on canopy gap formation, a disturbance naturally happening in non-managed forests, which promotes spatiotemporal heterogeneity in understory conditions. This, [...] Read more.
The understory of temperate forests harbour most of the plant species diversity present in these ecosystems. The maintenance of this diversity is strongly dependent on canopy gap formation, a disturbance naturally happening in non-managed forests, which promotes spatiotemporal heterogeneity in understory conditions. This, in turn, favours regeneration dynamics, functioning and structural complexity by allowing changes in light, moisture and nutrient availability. Our aim is to study how gap dynamics influence the stability of understory plant communities over a decade, particularly in their structure and function. The study was carried out in 102 permanent plots (sampled in 2006 and revisited in 2016) distributed throughout a 132 ha basin located in a non-managed temperate beech-oak forest (Bertiz Natural Park, Spain). We related changes in the taxonomical and functional composition and diversity of the understory vegetation to changes in canopy coverage. We found that gap dynamics influenced the species composition and richness of the understory through changes in light availability and leaf litter cover. Species with different strategies related to shade tolerance and dispersion established in the understory following the temporal evolution of gaps. However, changes in understory species composition in response to canopy dynamics occur at a slow speed in old-growth temperate forests, needing more than a decade to really be significant. The presence of gaps persisting more than ten years is essential for maintaining the heterogeneity and stability of understory vegetation in old-growth temperate forests. Full article
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Article
Effects of Windthrows on Forest Cover, Tree Growth and Soil Characteristics in Drought-Prone Pine Plantations
Forests 2021, 12(7), 817; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070817 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 369
Abstract
Windstorms are forest disturbances which generate canopy gaps. However, their effects on Mediterranean forests are understudied. To fill that research gap, changes in tree, cover, growth and soil features in Pinus halepensis and Pinus sylvestris plantations affected by windthrows were quantified. In each [...] Read more.
Windstorms are forest disturbances which generate canopy gaps. However, their effects on Mediterranean forests are understudied. To fill that research gap, changes in tree, cover, growth and soil features in Pinus halepensis and Pinus sylvestris plantations affected by windthrows were quantified. In each plantation, trees and soils in closed-canopy stands and gaps created by the windthrow were sampled. Changes in tree cover and radial growth were assessed by using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and dendrochronology, respectively. Soil features including texture, nutrients concentration and soil microbial community structure were also analyzed. Windthrows reduced tree cover and enhanced growth, particularly in the P. halepensis site, which was probably more severely impacted. Soil characteristics were also more altered by the windthrow in this site: the clay percentage increased in gaps, whereas K and Mg concentrations decreased. The biomass of Gram positive bacteria and actinomycetes increased in gaps, but the biomass of Gram negative bacteria and fungi decreased. Soil gaps became less fertile and dominated by bacteria after the windthrow in the P. halepensis site. We emphasize the relevance of considering post-disturbance time recovery and disturbance intensity to assess forest resilience within a multi-scale approach. Full article
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Article
Population Structure and Regeneration Status of Woody Plants in Relation to the Human Interventions, Arasbaran Biosphere Reserve, Iran
Forests 2021, 12(2), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12020191 - 07 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 489
Abstract
Proper understanding of the diversity and natural structure of woody species and the impacts of human interventions are prerequisites for maintaining the remaining forests as well as restoration of deforested and degraded areas. This research was conducted to document the impact of human [...] Read more.
Proper understanding of the diversity and natural structure of woody species and the impacts of human interventions are prerequisites for maintaining the remaining forests as well as restoration of deforested and degraded areas. This research was conducted to document the impact of human interventions on the population structure and the species diversity in the Arasbaran biosphere reserve in Iran due to the limited research and insufficient knowledge. The study area was divided into three adjacent sampling areas of low, medium, and high destruction intensity. Thirty fixed area 0.1-hectare plots were sampled to evaluate the composition, diversity, and species richness. Oak (Quercus macranthera), hawthorn (Crataegus meyeri), and maple (Acer campestre) were the top three dominant tree species at all the sites. The relative dominance of the top three species comprised 87.8% of the basal area of all species. The relative abundance of the top three species accounted for 68.1% of the species. The mean density and basal areas per tree across all three destruction statuses were 145 ± 59 stems ha−1 and 0.01 ± 0.005 m2 ha−1, respectively. The mean height of trees was different at low and high disturbance sites (4.6 ± 0.96 m and 3.37 ± 1.74 m, respectively). Due to the impact of human interventions on forest structure, composition, and diversity, conservation programs are recommended for implementation and in collaboration with local communities to employ management aimed at providing services for local people while restoring these forests. Basic ecological studies such as this study are the foundation to begin developing policies and management that meet multiple ecological and social goals. Full article
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Article
Phylogenetic Community and Nearest Neighbor Structure of Disturbed Tropical Rain Forests Encroached by Streblus macrophyllus
Forests 2020, 11(7), 722; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11070722 - 30 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Although woody plant encroachment of tropical forest ecosystems has been related to altered disturbance regimes, its impacts on the nearest neighborhood structures and community phylogenetics are still poorly understood. Streblus macrophyllus is a light-demanding species during its early life stages and is shade-tolerant [...] Read more.
Although woody plant encroachment of tropical forest ecosystems has been related to altered disturbance regimes, its impacts on the nearest neighborhood structures and community phylogenetics are still poorly understood. Streblus macrophyllus is a light-demanding species during its early life stages and is shade-tolerant as a mature tree. S. macrophyllus can be found in tropical karst evergreen forests in northern Vietnam. It often regenerates at high densities in anthropogenic disturbed forest stands. To understand the structural patterns of disturbed forests encroached by S. macrophyllus at different abundance levels, three fully mapped 1-ha plots were established in Cuc Phuong National Park. Methods considering the phylogenetic community and nearest neighbor statistics were applied to identify how community structure changes during S. macrophyllus encroachment. Results showed that phylogenetic distance, phylogenetic diversity, and mean phylogenetic distance increased when species diversity increased and the abundance of S. macrophyllus decreased in forest communities. Net related index values were positive, which indicates a clustered phylogenetic structure among all sampled forest communities. S. macrophyllus trees were mixed well with heterospecifics and had regular to aggregated distributions, whereas the species showed evidence of being a strong competitor with its neighbors. Competition could be a major ecological process regulating forest communities encroached by S. macrophyllus. According to the forest disturbance effects, phylogenetic community properties showed the loss of phylogenetic relatedness when S. macrophyllus increased in abundance. To our knowledge, S. macrophyllus encroaches tropical rain forest communities as a disturbance-adapted species. Full article
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