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Special Issue "How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Kaiguang Zhao

School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Wooster, Ohio 44691 USA
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Stephen N. Matthews

School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, 2021 Coffey Rd. Columbus, OH 43210 USA
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Impacts of global changes are far-reaching, with consequences being observed and anticipated for forest ecosystems worldwide. Overlaying on the global change background are a set of location-specific factors that exert strong local controls on forest growth and responses to environmental stressors and forcing. One such salient factor is topography, creating gradients in climate and resources that, in many cases, are the dominant processes driving species distribution, community composition, and landscape patterns across multiple spatial scales. Topographic influences operate through numerous mechanisms, being physical, biological, ecological, chemical or geological. Topographic signatures are also manifested in environment policies, forest governance, deforestation activities, and other human decision processes. Untangling all the spatial complexities associated with topography is not a new area, but its roles under a changing global environment are yet to be adequately explored and sometimes even underappreciated. We hope that this Special Issue will gather new research to better elucidate the interplay between topography with other environmental factors in shaping the future of forests and to foster deeper understanding under the theme of “How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change”.

We invite any original research that explicitly identify topography as a factor in its study design with questions formulated in the context of global changes or with findings bearing implications for climate adaption and mitigation or forest management under global changes. Given the multi-faceted nature of the theme, the scope of this Special Issue is intentionally aimed to be broad, soliciting contributions from an array of relevant disciplines. Example topics include, but are limited to, species distribution, biodiversity, forest structure and composition, functional traits, fire, drought response, insect stress, genetic variability, phenology, canopy-air interaction, microclimate, hydrology, nutrient cycling, soil dynamics and chemistry, land-use change, climate regulation, ecosystem valuation, and forest polices and economics. Topography and its effect tend to be site-specific, which, for example, may provide refuge for species at one place but create barriers for range expansion at others. We, therefore, also welcome case studies that test existing knowledge and theories to facilitate great understanding of how topography can influence global change pressures. In addition, we are interested in contributions focusing on development of new instrumentation and techniques—in situ or remote sensing—that can improve the measurements and characterization of topographic effects on forests.

Dr. Kaiguang Zhao
Dr. Stephen N. Matthews
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

  • Topography
  • Elevation/slope/aspect
  • Climate change
  • Tree migration
  • Species distribution
  • Land-air interaction
  • Microclimate
  • Climate regulation
  • Forest Ecology
  • Disturbance

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Disturbance Alters the Relative Importance of Topographic and Biogeochemical Controls on Microbial Activity in Temperate Montane Forests
Forests 2018, 9(2), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9020097
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 3 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 24 February 2018
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Abstract
Fire and pathogen-induced tree mortality are the two dominant forms of disturbance in Western U.S. montane forests. We investigated the consequences of both disturbance types on the controls of microbial activity in soils from 56 plots across a topographic gradient one year after [...] Read more.
Fire and pathogen-induced tree mortality are the two dominant forms of disturbance in Western U.S. montane forests. We investigated the consequences of both disturbance types on the controls of microbial activity in soils from 56 plots across a topographic gradient one year after the 2012 High Park wildfire in Colorado. Topsoil biogeochemistry, soil CO2 efflux, potential exoenzyme activities, and microbial biomass were quantified in plots that experienced fire disturbance, beetle disturbance, or both fire and beetle disturbance, and in plots where there was no recent evidence of disturbance. Soil CO2 efflux, N-, and P-degrading exoenzyme activities in undisturbed plots were positively correlated with soil moisture, estimated from a topographic wetness index; coefficient of determinations ranged from 0.5 to 0.65. Conversely, the same estimates of microbial activities from fire-disturbed and beetle-disturbed soils showed little correspondence to topographically inferred wetness, but demonstrated mostly negative relationships with soil pH (fire only) and mostly positive relationships with DOC/TDN (dissolved organic carbon/total dissolved nitrogen) ratios for both disturbance types. The coefficient of determination for regressions of microbial activity with soil pH and DOC/TDN reached 0.8 and 0.63 in fire- and beetle-disturbed forests, respectively. Drivers of soil microbial activity change as a function of disturbance type, suggesting simple mathematical models are insufficient in capturing the impact of disturbance in forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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Open AccessArticle Phenology of Five Shrub Communities along an Elevation Gradient in the Qilian Mountains, China
Forests 2018, 9(2), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9020058
Received: 22 September 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
Phenology indicates the response of ecosystem dynamics to climate change. Shrubs are an important component of alpine forests, and play a key role in forest ecosystem function, especially in semiarid alpine regions. In 2015, we observed the dynamics of phenology in five shrub [...] Read more.
Phenology indicates the response of ecosystem dynamics to climate change. Shrubs are an important component of alpine forests, and play a key role in forest ecosystem function, especially in semiarid alpine regions. In 2015, we observed the dynamics of phenology in five shrub communities along an elevation gradient (2600–3300 m) in the Qilian Mountains. Our results showed that the length of the growing season decreased from 153 days for Caragana tangutica to 150 days for Berberis diaphana, 149 days for Potentilla fruticosa L., 144 days for Caragana jubata (Pall.) Poir., and 134 days for Salix gilashanica C. Wang et P. Y. Fu. The accumulated temperature of the five shrub communities during the growing season varied from 1735.4 °C for C. tangutica to 1051.3 °C for C. jubata. The beginning of the growing season was earlier at lower, than at higher, elevations, while the end of the growing season was later at lower, than at higher, elevations. Elevation and aspect were two important environmental factors that affected shrub phenology. In our study, low temperature, coinciding with the occurrence of early frost, particularly in higher elevations, was the key factor in promoting end-of-season shrub growth cessation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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Open AccessArticle Elevational Shifts in the Topographic Position of Polylepis Forest Stands in the Andes of Southern Peru
Forests 2018, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9010007
Received: 27 October 2017 / Revised: 14 December 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
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Abstract
The patchy distribution of high-Andean treeline forests has provoked discussion about the relative importance of anthropogenic and climatic causes of this pattern, both of which vary with topography. We aimed to understand the topographic controls on the distribution of Polylepis subsericans treeline forests [...] Read more.
The patchy distribution of high-Andean treeline forests has provoked discussion about the relative importance of anthropogenic and climatic causes of this pattern, both of which vary with topography. We aimed to understand the topographic controls on the distribution of Polylepis subsericans treeline forests in the Andes of southern Peru, and the changes in these controls along an elevational gradient. We mapped Polylepis forests in the Cordillera Urubamba, Cusco, using high-resolution aerial images and related forest cover to topographic variables extracted from a digital terrain model (30-m resolution). The variables were selected based on their expected biological relevance for tree growth at high elevations. We constructed logistic regression models of forest cover, separately for each of five 100-m elevational belts. To deal with spatial autocorrelation, models were based on randomized 10% subsampling of the data with 1000 repetitions. The results suggest a consistent shift in topographic preference with elevation, with forests at lower elevations showing a preference for topographically protected sites near rivers and forests at higher elevations being increasingly restricted to north-facing and well-drained sites. Our study offers the first indication of the ability of Andean treeline forests to benefit from the topographic heterogeneity of the high-Andes. Providing that dispersal and establishment are possible, local relocation between microsites could help these forests to persist regionally in spite of changing climatic conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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Open AccessArticle Applying Topographic Classification, Based on the Hydrological Process, to Design Habitat Linkages for Climate Change
Forests 2017, 8(12), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8120466
Received: 22 September 2017 / Revised: 30 October 2017 / Accepted: 24 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
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Abstract
The use of biodiversity surrogates has been discussed in the context of designing habitat linkages to support the migration of species affected by climate change. Topography has been proposed as a useful surrogate in the coarse-filter approach, as the hydrological process caused by [...] Read more.
The use of biodiversity surrogates has been discussed in the context of designing habitat linkages to support the migration of species affected by climate change. Topography has been proposed as a useful surrogate in the coarse-filter approach, as the hydrological process caused by topography such as erosion and accumulation is the basis of ecological processes. However, some studies that have designed topographic linkages as habitat linkages, so far have focused much on the shape of the topography (morphometric topographic classification) with little emphasis on the hydrological processes (generic topographic classification) to find such topographic linkages. We aimed to understand whether generic classification was valid for designing these linkages. First, we evaluated whether topographic classification is more appropriate for describing actual (coniferous and deciduous) and potential (mammals and amphibians) habitat distributions. Second, we analyzed the difference in the linkages between the morphometric and generic topographic classifications. The results showed that the generic classification represented the actual distribution of the trees, but neither the morphometric nor the generic classification could represent the potential animal distributions adequately. Our study demonstrated that the topographic classes, according to the generic classification, were arranged successively according to the flow of water, nutrients, and sediment; therefore, it would be advantageous to secure linkages with a width of 1 km or more. In addition, the edge effect would be smaller than with the morphometric classification. Accordingly, we suggest that topographic characteristics, based on the hydrological process, are required to design topographic linkages for climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Floral Relicts Based on Spatial Distance of Isolation
Forests 2017, 8(11), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8110459
Received: 12 September 2017 / Revised: 5 November 2017 / Accepted: 15 November 2017 / Published: 21 November 2017
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Abstract
The identification of climatic relicts is seldom straightforward. These species are threatened owing to current climatic trends, which underlines the importance of carrying out ecological and biogeographic investigations of them. Here we introduce a novel approach to improve the identification of climatic relicts. [...] Read more.
The identification of climatic relicts is seldom straightforward. These species are threatened owing to current climatic trends, which underlines the importance of carrying out ecological and biogeographic investigations of them. Here we introduce a novel approach to improve the identification of climatic relicts. We are focusing on thermophilic relict plants of the Pannonian biogeographic region from the Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM). We argue that a minimal mean annual temperature difference (MATD) of the HTM compared to the recent climate allowed a continuous northward expansion for the taxa investigated. We measured latitudinal distances between the recent occurrences of relicts and those of the main distribution found further south. Regarding estimates for MATD (1.0–2.5 °C), we only consider species with a distribution which has a 150–350 km North-South gap, since a latitudinally directed distance can be translated into temperature, showing a poleward cooling trend. Of the 15 selected species, 12 were recorded with values of 1.0–1.7 °C MATD, and three with values of 1.8–2.5 °C, some of which are presumably interglacial species. Woody species are over-represented among them (four species), using the Hungarian flora as a reference. The proposed method allows the prediction of potential climate-related changes in the future distribution of species, constrained by the topographic features of their habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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Open AccessArticle Land-Use Redistribution Compensated for Ecosystem Service Losses Derived from Agriculture Expansion, with Mixed Effects on Biodiversity in a NW Argentina Watershed
Forests 2017, 8(8), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8080303
Received: 21 June 2017 / Revised: 12 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 18 August 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2376 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Areas of land abandonment and agriculture expansion usually differ in location and associated environmental characteristics; thus, land-use redistribution affects the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. In a subtropical region undergoing land redistribution patterns characteristic of Latin America, we estimated 20-year changes [...] Read more.
Areas of land abandonment and agriculture expansion usually differ in location and associated environmental characteristics; thus, land-use redistribution affects the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. In a subtropical region undergoing land redistribution patterns characteristic of Latin America, we estimated 20-year changes in food production, above-ground carbon stocks and soil erosion due to land cover change, and the potential effects of such redistribution of forests on the diversity of birds and mammals. Between 1986 and 2006, despite only 0.3% of net forest cover change, 7% of the total area (ca. 280,000 has) switched between forest and non-forest covers. Food production increased by 46%, while the estimated ecosystem services changed by less than 10%. Forest carbon remained stable, with gains in montane humid forests compensating for losses in lowlands. Modeled soil erosion increased, but sediment accumulation at the watershed bottom remained stable. The responses of birds and mammals to forest redistribution differed and were stronger in birds. Due to the strong responses of birds to forest loss, lowland bird communities might be especially threatened by current land-use trends. Results suggest that land redistribution associated with the adjustment of agriculture towards soils suitable for mechanized agriculture can help mitigate associated losses in ecosystem services and biodiversity, but species and supporting services depending on easily-converted ecosystems require appropriate landscape management practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Topography Impacts Forests under Global Change?)
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