Special Issue "Riparian Forest Dynamics: Ecological Relations and Species Interactions"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Francisca C. Aguiar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: riparian forests; river management, ecosystem services, biogeography; functional ecology; adaptation to climate change; effects of land-use and stream flow regulation; indicators of ecological quality; monitoring and conservation of riparian forests; invasive alien species
Dr. Maria do Rosário Fernandes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: riparian ecology; remote sensing, GIS applications; optical traits, landscape metrics; species image detection, carbon stock assessment, morphological historical cartography, riparian modeling, climate change impacts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Riparian forests are multifunctional ecotones that generate a large range of ecological functions, goods, and services for human well-being and society. They are both frontier ecosystems and connectors of the terrestrial and the aquatic environments. This Special Issue will gather selected papers on the dynamics and functioning of riparian forests and their relationships with the aquatic environment and adjacent lands. We encourage papers focused on species interactions from the aquatic and riparian communities or from the adjacent ecosystems. Manuscripts revealing the role of riparian forests in the overall improvement of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystems services, especially in highly degraded adjacent ecosystems, are welcome. Contributions on the valuation, and on how to best monitor, manage, and preserve riparian forests will be also appreciated. Original works and reviews are both suitable.

Dr. Francisca C. Aguiar
Dr. Maria do Rosário Fernandes
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • species interactions
  • aquatic and riverine communities
  • riparian forests
  • river management
  • multifunctional landscapes
  • biodiversity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Characterization of Riparian Tree Communities along a River Basin in the Pacific Slope of Guatemala
Forests 2021, 12(7), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070898 - 09 Jul 2021
Viewed by 383
Abstract
Ecosystem conservation in Mesoamerica, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, is a top priority because of the rapid loss of native vegetation due to anthropogenic activities. Riparian forests are often the only remaining preserved areas among expansive agricultural matrices. These forest remnants are [...] Read more.
Ecosystem conservation in Mesoamerica, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, is a top priority because of the rapid loss of native vegetation due to anthropogenic activities. Riparian forests are often the only remaining preserved areas among expansive agricultural matrices. These forest remnants are essential to maintaining water quality, providing habitats for a variety of wildlife and acting as biological corridors that enable the movement and dispersal of local species. The Acomé river is located on the Pacific slope of Guatemala. This region is heavily impacted by intensive agriculture (mostly sugarcane plantations), fires and grazing. Most of this region’s original forest is now restricted to forest remnants concentrated along the riverbank. However, the botanical composition and species diversity of the riparian communities has not been characterized. This baseline information is essential to develop restoration strategies and management plans. This study aimed to characterize the riparian tree communities along the Acomé riverbank by systematically collecting herbarium specimens and photographic material for trees over 10 cm DBH (diameter at breast height). Cluster analysis was used to identify the main riparian communities, and diversity indices were calculated for each community. A total of 115 tree species were identified, belonging to 91 genera and 43 families. The cluster analysis suggested the presence of four riparian tree communities along an altitudinal gradient. Rhizophora mangle, Cecropia obtusifolia, Guazuma ulmifolia, and Brosimum costaricanum were the dominant species of the identified communities. This research will support ongoing restoration efforts and biological connectivity plans in this region. Full article
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Article
Assessing the Connectivity of Riparian Forests across a Gradient of Human Disturbance: The Potential of Copernicus “Riparian Zones” in Two Hydroregions
Forests 2021, 12(6), 674; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060674 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 515
Abstract
The connectivity of riparian forests can be used as a proxy for the capacity of riparian zones to provide ecological functions, goods and services. In this study, we aim to test the potential of the freely available Copernicus “Riparian Zones” dataset to characterize [...] Read more.
The connectivity of riparian forests can be used as a proxy for the capacity of riparian zones to provide ecological functions, goods and services. In this study, we aim to test the potential of the freely available Copernicus “Riparian Zones” dataset to characterize the connectivity of riparian forests located in two European bioclimatic regions—the Mediterranean and the Central Baltic hydroregions—when subject to a gradient of human disturbance characterized by land-use/land-cover and hydromorphological pressures. We extracted riparian patches using the Copernicus “Actual Riparian Zone” (ARZ) layer and calculated connectivity using the Integral Index of Connectivity (IIC). We then compared the results with a “Manual Riparian Zone” (MRZ) layer, produced by manually digitizing riparian vegetation patches over a very high-resolution World Imagery layer. Our research evidenced reduced forest connectivity in both hydroregions, with the exception of Least Disturbed sites in the Central Baltic hydroregion. The ARZ layer exhibited overall suitability to assess the connectivity of riparian forests in the Central Baltic hydroregion, while the Mediterranean hydroregion displayed a consistent pattern of connectivity overestimation in all levels of human disturbance. To address this, we recommend some improvements in the spatial resolution and thematic accuracy of the Copernicus ARZ layer. Full article
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Article
Ants as Bioindicators of Riparian Ecological Health in Catalonian Rivers
Forests 2021, 12(5), 625; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050625 - 14 May 2021
Viewed by 597
Abstract
In this study, we assess the potential of ants as bioindicators of riparian ecological health in two river types (upland and lowland type) located in the Catalonian region. We proposed to understand to what extent do metrics based on ant responses provide useful [...] Read more.
In this study, we assess the potential of ants as bioindicators of riparian ecological health in two river types (upland and lowland type) located in the Catalonian region. We proposed to understand to what extent do metrics based on ant responses provide useful information that cannot be presented by traditional biophysical assessments while attempting an approach to creating an ant-based multimetric index (ant-based MMI) of the riparian ecological health. A total of 22 ant species were identified, and 42 metrics related to ant foraging activity, species richness, and functional traits were evaluated as potential core metrics of the index. Riparian features and proximal land use land cover (LULC) were used to distinguish disturbed from less disturbed sites. We found that ant communities strongly responded to human disturbance. When compared with an exclusively physical-based index for the assessment of the riparian health, the ant-based MMI was more sensitive to human disturbance, by also reacting to the effects of the surrounding LULC pressure. This study provides a preliminary approach for an ant-based assessment tool to evaluate the health of riparian corridors although additional research is required to include other river types and a wider stressor gradient before a wider application. Full article
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Article
Regeneration of Riparian and Maritime Pine Forests after a Large Wildfire on the Largest Public Forest of Portugal
Forests 2021, 12(4), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040477 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 681
Abstract
Eighty-six percent of the largest Portuguese public forest, Leiria National Forest (Mata Nacional de Leiria—MNL), central west, was burned in a wildfire in October 2017. Most of the area was covered by maritime pine stands (Pinus pinaster Aiton) crossed by riparian forests [...] Read more.
Eighty-six percent of the largest Portuguese public forest, Leiria National Forest (Mata Nacional de Leiria—MNL), central west, was burned in a wildfire in October 2017. Most of the area was covered by maritime pine stands (Pinus pinaster Aiton) crossed by riparian forests along small-sized streams. This work aims to characterize the post-fire vegetation and evaluate its natural regeneration. Sampling was carried out c. 6 months after the fire in 28 plots distributed at pine stands (3.5 × 3.5 m2) and in 24 plots (5 × 20 m2) at stream channels and riverbanks. These latter surveys were repeated in 2019. Data include the floristic composition and cover data of pine stands and streams, and the number of pine seedlings. Six months after the fire, 60% and 93% of the pre-fire species were observed at streams and pine stands, respectively. Fire severity was not related to differences in flora composition, nor with species richness. Pine seedlings were significantly more abundant in pine stands >60 years old compared to younger (<25 y) stands, but no significant differences were observed in the regeneration of understory. On riparian landscapes, the germination and resprouting of invasive exotic species, such as Acacia sp., created dense vegetation formations with decreased native plant diversity and altered the ecosystem structure. Following large wildfires, such as the one in MNL, managers should prioritize preserving the natural regeneration potential in the soil and aerial seed banks. Full article
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Article
What Factors Shape Spatial Distribution of Biomass in Riparian Forests? Insights from a LiDAR Survey over a Large Area
Forests 2021, 12(3), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12030371 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 641
Abstract
Riparian ecosystems are home to a remarkable biodiversity, but have been degraded in many regions of the world. Vegetation biomass is central to several key functions of riparian systems. It is influenced by multiple factors, such as soil waterlogging, sediment input, flood, and [...] Read more.
Riparian ecosystems are home to a remarkable biodiversity, but have been degraded in many regions of the world. Vegetation biomass is central to several key functions of riparian systems. It is influenced by multiple factors, such as soil waterlogging, sediment input, flood, and human disturbance. However, knowledge is lacking on how these factors interact to shape spatial distribution of biomass in riparian forests. In this study, LiDAR data were used in an individual tree approach to map the aboveground biomass in riparian forests along 200 km of rivers in the Meuse catchment, in southern Belgium (Western Europe). Two approaches were tested, relying either on a LiDAR Canopy Height Model alone or in conjunction with a LiDAR point cloud. Cross-validated biomass relative mean square error for 0.3 ha plots were, respectively, 27% and 22% for the two approaches. Spatial distribution of biomass patterns were driven by parcel history (and particularly vegetation age), followed by land use and topographical or geomorphological variables. Overall, anthropogenic factors were dominant over natural factors. However, vegetation patches located in the lower parts of the riparian zone exhibited a lower biomass than those in higher locations at the same age, presumably due to a combination of a more intense disturbance regime and more limiting growing conditions in the lower parts of the riparian zone. Similar approaches to ours could be deployed in other regions in order to better understand how biomass distribution patterns vary according to the climatic, geological or cultural contexts. Full article
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Article
Vegetation Properties in Human-Impacted Riparian Zones Based on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Imagery: An Analysis of River Reaches in the Yongding River Basin
Forests 2021, 12(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010022 - 27 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
Riparian zones, transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, have high plant species diversities. However, they are extremely vulnerable to natural factors, such as changes in river hydrological conditions (floods, droughts) and disturbances from human activities (dams, farmland encroachment, etc.). The distribution of [...] Read more.
Riparian zones, transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, have high plant species diversities. However, they are extremely vulnerable to natural factors, such as changes in river hydrological conditions (floods, droughts) and disturbances from human activities (dams, farmland encroachment, etc.). The distribution of plant life forms and variations in the degree of vegetation coverage in a riparian zone can reflect changes in the environmental conditions. In this study, we analyzed eight reaches from the four main tributaries (Dongyang River, Yang River, Sanggan River, and Yongding River) of the Yongding River Basin, which were selected based on their climate, terrain, and degree of human disturbance. One reach was located on the Dongyang River (DYR), two reaches on the Yang River (YR1 and YR2), three on the Sanggan River (SGR1, 2, and 3), and two on the Yongding River (YDR1 and YDR2). Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology was used to obtain high-resolution, true-color, multispectral images. The distributions of the plant life forms and the differences in the vegetation coverage were analyzed in the eight selected riparian zones. The results showed that grasses dominated the riparian zone and shrubs and trees were sparsely distributed along both banks of all streams, excluding SGR2 and YDR1. The areas with an extremely high vegetation coverage classification accounted for the highest proportion in the DYR (29.3%), YR2 (48.1%), SGR1 (32.9%), SGR2 (39.9%), SGR3 (85.1%), YDR1 (36.7%), and YDR2 (51.1%) reaches. Extremely low vegetation coverage accounted for the highest proportion in the YR2 reach, reaching 37.4%. This study indicated that natural factors and human activities have a serious impact on the distribution of different plants life forms and vegetation coverage classifications in the riparian zones of the Yongding River Basin. We hope that this research can provide practical assistance in the efforts of ecological restoration and the management of riparian vegetation in the Yongding River Basin. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Vegetation recovery of riparian and maritime pine forests after a large wildfire: a case study on the national forest, Portugal
Authors: Aguiar, F.C.; Rodrigues, C.; Pina, J.; Soares, P.
Affiliation: Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal

Title: Prioritize riparian connectivity for the improvement of habitat quality in distinct landscape matrices
Authors: Fonseca, A.; Duarte, G.; Aguiar, F.C.; Rodríguez-González, P.; Zina, V.; Ferreira, M.T.; Fernandes, M.R.
Affiliation: Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal

Title: Riparian connectivity for the improvement of ants diversity: effects of landscape attributes and habitat quality
Authors: Zina, V.; Franco, J.C; Fonseca, A.; Duarte, G.; Aguiar, F.C.; Rodríguez-González, P.; Ferreira, M.T.; Fernandes, M.R.
Affiliation: Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal

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