Special Issue "Spatial and Temporal Patterns and Ecosystem Services of Riparian Forests"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 February 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Francisca C. Aguiar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: riparian forests; macrophytes; ecosystem services; biogeography; functional ecology; adaptation to climate change; effects of land-use and stream flow regulation; indicators of ecological quality; weeds; invasive alien plants
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Riparian forests are multifunctional ecotones that generate a large range of goods and services for human well-being and society. They are both frontier ecosystems and connectors of the upland and the aquatic environment. Riparian vegetation has been shaped by humans and is frequently threatened by activities that fragment, disconnect and reduce their spatial and temporal dynamics. As water and fertile lands are limited and resources overexploited, riparian forests have become increasingly imperiled in many regions of the world. Having almost reached the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, ‘characterizing and understanding’ in order to ‘conserve, restore, monitor and manage’ riparian forests remains challenging to support the shape of policies. This Special Issue will gather selected papers on the dynamics and functioning of riparian forests as providers of ecosystem services, as well as contributions on their valuation, and on how to best monitor, manage and preserve riparian forests. Original research, theoretical and overview papers are welcome.

Prof. Francisca C. Aguiar
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ecosystem services
  • riparian forests
  • riparian management
  • multifunctional landscapes

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Shifts in Riparian Plant Life Forms Following Flow Regulation
Forests 2020, 11(5), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050518 - 05 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 694
Abstract
Flow regulation affects bordering riparian plant communities worldwide, but how different plant life forms are affected by river regulation still needs further research. In northern Sweden, we selected 10 rivers ranging from free-flowing to low, moderately, and highly regulated ones. In 94 reaches [...] Read more.
Flow regulation affects bordering riparian plant communities worldwide, but how different plant life forms are affected by river regulation still needs further research. In northern Sweden, we selected 10 rivers ranging from free-flowing to low, moderately, and highly regulated ones. In 94 reaches across those rivers, we evaluated the relative abundance of woody and herbaceous (i.e., graminoids and forbs) life forms, their species richness, and their relative presence. We also explored which, and to what extent, hydrological variables drove species assembly within each life form. The relative abundance and species richness of each life form decreased across river categories with increasing levels of regulation. This was particularly apparent in herbaceous life forms, and the most drastic decreases were observed in all life forms in moderately or highly regulated reaches. Additionally, when river regulation increased, the relative presence of many species from all life forms decreased. Unlike woody species, only a few new herbaceous species appeared in regulated reaches. A canonical correspondence analyses (CCA) revealed that a wide range of hydrological variables explained the occurrence of woody species, while fewer variables explained variation in the graminoid and forb life forms. We conclude that flow regulation and its intensity result into clear shifts in the relative abundance of different life forms, as well as in changes of within-group species richness and composition. Consequently, the modification of certain flow attributes in flow regulation schemes, as well as the intensity of these modifications, may alter the ratio between herbaceous and woody species, ultimately impacting the functions and benefits derived from each life form. Full article
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Article
Soil and Nutrient Cycling Responses in Riparian Forests to the Loss of Ash (Fraxinus spp. L) from Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis, Fairmaire)
Forests 2020, 11(5), 489; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050489 - 26 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 943
Abstract
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an alien invasive species that is spreading across Canada and the United States killing ash trees. In riparian forests where ash may be abundant; loss of ash can induce significant structural changes; including the creation of canopy gaps; [...] Read more.
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an alien invasive species that is spreading across Canada and the United States killing ash trees. In riparian forests where ash may be abundant; loss of ash can induce significant structural changes; including the creation of canopy gaps; changes in light penetration; expansion of ground vegetation; and alteration of soil nitrogen and carbon cycling. In 2014 and 2015, we examined the effects of EAB-caused gaps in riparian forests on soil nutrient dynamics. Two sites with different infestation timelines, a “new” site (mortality in past 2–3 years) and an “old” site (infested 10 years previous) were selected to determine temporal differences in effects of canopy gaps created by ash loss on litterfall, herbaceous ground vegetation, and soil nutrient cycling. Within both sites, plots with clustered dead ash (canopy gap plots—CG) were paired with nearby plots of full canopy and no ash (canopy closed plots—CC), and differences between paired plots determined. Total litterfall was observed at all sites but was only significant at the new infestation site. Reductions in leaf litter deposition in CG plots resulted in reduced N and C flux to the forest floor but soil C and N concentrations, and nitrogen mineralization rates, were not significantly different between CG and CC plots. Nitrate concentration in soil solution was significantly greater in CG plots compared to CC plots at the new infestation sites but showed the opposite trend at the old infestation sites. Herbaceous ground vegetation biomass was significantly greater (up to 10×) in CG plots than in CC plots. Overall, despite changes to riparian forest canopy structure and litterfall, there was no significant difference in soil nutrient cycling between EAB-induced canopy gaps and closed canopy plots after 10 years, suggesting a high resilience of riparian forest soils to EAB infestation Full article
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Article
Linking Hydromorphological Degradation with Environmental Status of Riparian Ecosystems: A Case Study in the Stropnice River Basin, Czech Republic
Forests 2020, 11(4), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040460 - 18 Apr 2020
Viewed by 900
Abstract
Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the anthropogenic degradation of the riverbed and its relationship to the ecological status of the adjacent river landscape. The key objective of this research was to determine the extent of the disturbance of the selected small [...] Read more.
Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the anthropogenic degradation of the riverbed and its relationship to the ecological status of the adjacent river landscape. The key objective of this research was to determine the extent of the disturbance of the selected small streams and their riparian zone in a study area located in a forest and forest-agricultural landscape in the Czech Republic. The next step was to analyze the mutual relationships between the ecological status of the riparian vegetation and the hydromorphological status of the riverbed. The main working hypothesis considered the good hydromorphological status of the river as reflected in the favorable environmental status of the surrounding riparian habitats and vice versa. It was found in more than 90% of the total length of studied watercourses that the character of linkages between channel morphology and the ecological status of riparian vegetation is directly influenced by anthropogenic activities. An interesting finding is that the degraded streams in lowland sites are often encompassed by natural or close-to-natural habitats. On the contrary, the natural status of the riverbed was found in a significantly forested headwater area, but the riparian habitats did not reach even a close-to-natural status. This paper contributes to clarifying the significance of human impact on the river morphology, reflected in the reduction of connectivity between the terrestrial and fluvial parts of the river landscape. It helps to explore the most important disturbances affecting mutual interactions between the river and the riparian habitats. Full article
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Article
Carbon Stock Estimations in a Mediterranean Riparian Forest: A Case Study Combining Field Data and UAV Imagery
Forests 2020, 11(4), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040376 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1851
Abstract
This study aims to estimate the total biomass aboveground and soil carbon stocks in a Mediterranean riparian forest and identify the contribution of the different species and ecosystem compartments to the overall riparian carbon reservoir. We used a combined field and object-based image [...] Read more.
This study aims to estimate the total biomass aboveground and soil carbon stocks in a Mediterranean riparian forest and identify the contribution of the different species and ecosystem compartments to the overall riparian carbon reservoir. We used a combined field and object-based image analysis (OBIA) approach, based on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) multispectral imagery, to assess C stock of three dominant riparian species. A linear discriminator was designed, based on a set of spectral variables previously selected in an optimal way, permitting the classification of the species corresponding to every object in the study area. This made it possible to estimate the area occupied by each species and its contribution to the tree aboveground biomass (AGB). Three uncertainty levels were considered, related to the trade-off between the number of unclassified and misclassified objects, leading to an error control associated with the estimated tree AGB. We found that riparian woodlands dominated by Acacia dealbata Link showed the highest average carbon stock per unit area (251 ± 90 tC ha−1) followed by Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertner (162 ± 12 tC ha−1) and by Salix salviifolia Brot. (73 ± 17 tC ha−1), which are mainly related to the stem density, vegetation development and successional stage of the different stands. The woody tree compartment showed the highest inputs (79%), followed by the understory vegetation (12%) and lastly by the soil mineral layer (9%). Spectral vegetation indices developed to suppress saturation effects were consistently selected as important variables for species classification. The total tree AGB in the study area varies from 734 to 1053 tC according to the distinct levels of uncertainty. This study provided the foundations for the assessment of the riparian carbon sequestration and the economic value of the carbon stocks provided by similar Mediterranean riparian forests, a highly relevant ecosystem service for the regulation of climate change effects. Full article
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