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Special Issue "Disturbance, Succession, and Development of 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 (15 June 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Justin L. Hart

Forest Dynamics Lab, Department of Geography, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: applied forest ecology; disturbance ecology; silviculture; stand dynamics; phytogeography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

All forest ecosystems are impacted by disturbance events. These discrete events in space and time alter species composition and stand structure, and are, thus, strong controls on successional and developmental patterns in forest ecosystems. Disturbances can reset, accelerate, or retard succession and development or fundamentally alter the pathway. For this Special Issue of Forests, we invite contributions that examine forest disturbances and influences on successional and developmental patterns and processes. Empirical studies, methods papers, and review papers focused on natural and managed disturbances across all disturbance severity categories (gap-scale, intermediate-scale, and stand-scale disturbances) are welcome. We hope that this Special Issue will improve our mechanistic understanding of the effects of disturbance on plant succession and stand development and therefore, will improve our ability to manage forest resources.

Prof. Dr. Justin L. Hart
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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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

  • disturbance

  • species composition

  • succession

  • structure

  • development

  • forest dynamics

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Environmental, Structural, and Disturbance Influences over Forest Floor Components in Interior Douglas-Fir Forests of the Intermountain West, USA
Forests 2018, 9(8), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9080503
Received: 5 July 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
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Abstract
Downed woody material (DWM) is a key component in forest ecosystems with age, structure, and disturbance described as primary factors that influence DWM dynamics. In particular, much emphasis is placed on large coarse woody debris (CWD). Fine woody debris (FWD) (less than 7.62 [...] Read more.
Downed woody material (DWM) is a key component in forest ecosystems with age, structure, and disturbance described as primary factors that influence DWM dynamics. In particular, much emphasis is placed on large coarse woody debris (CWD). Fine woody debris (FWD) (less than 7.62 cm diameter), duff, and litter also contribute to carbon stocks, provide habitat, add to nutrient cycling, and are often the most available fuels for fire, yet are regularly overlooked in studies describing the forest floor. Throughout the middle montane zone within the Intermountain West region USA, interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca Mirb. Franco) is a predominant forest type, yet little is known about the forest floor complex in these forests. We used a chronosequence approach to compare DWM patterns over the course of stand development among stands with different disturbance histories. Using classification and regression trees, we also evaluated an assemblage of environmental, structural, and disturbance variables to determine factors of most importance for estimating loading for DWM, duff, and litter. We found CWD resembled a U-shaped pattern of buildup while FWD components remained stable over the course of stand development regardless of disturbance history. Our results indicate that large DWM components are most closely associated with the amount of standing dead material in a stand, primarily the density and basal area of snags. Fine woody material was more aligned with live stand components, while duff and litter were more influenced by disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Physiological Responses of Species to Microclimate Help explain Population Dynamics along Succession in a Tropical Dry Forest of Yucatan, Mexico
Forests 2018, 9(7), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070411
Received: 18 June 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 July 2018 / Published: 8 July 2018
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Abstract
We investigated relationships between population dynamics and microclimate, physiology, and the degree of mycorrhizal colonization, for three species (Piscidia piscipula L.(Sarg.)) (Fabaceae), Bunchosia swartziana Griseb. (Malpighiaceae) and Psidium sartorianum (Bergius) Nied. (Myrtaceae)) of a tropical sub deciduous forest in Yucatan, Mexico that [...] Read more.
We investigated relationships between population dynamics and microclimate, physiology, and the degree of mycorrhizal colonization, for three species (Piscidia piscipula L.(Sarg.)) (Fabaceae), Bunchosia swartziana Griseb. (Malpighiaceae) and Psidium sartorianum (Bergius) Nied. (Myrtaceae)) of a tropical sub deciduous forest in Yucatan, Mexico that were growing in plots of different successional ages. We hypothesized that abundance and persistence were related to increased plasticity in CO2 assimilation. We found that Piscidia piscipula had greater abundance in intermediate plots (18 to 21 years), presented higher levels of plasticity in CO2 assimilation (greater variability among individuals, plots, and seasons), presented the highest CO2 assimilation rates, and presented greater drought resistance (higher water potentials and capacitance). Conversely, Psidium sartorianum had greater abundance in older plots (more than 50 years of secondary succession), lower assimilation rates, and low levels of plasticity in CO2 assimilation. Bunchosia had intermediate values. Locally, the degree of mycorrhizal colonization was consistent with abundance across plots. Regionally (but not locally), plasticity in CO2 assimilation was consistent with abundance. We found differences in microclimates among plots and within plots among species. Physiological adjustments appeared to play an important role in the capacity to regenerate and in the successional persistence of these species in this tropical dry forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Structural Diversity in a Mixed Spruce-Fir-Beech Old-Growth Forest Remnant of the Western Carpathians
Forests 2018, 9(7), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070379
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 15 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 23 June 2018
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Abstract
Old-growth forests are a unique source of information for close-to-nature silviculture. In the National Nature Reserve Dobročský prales (Slovakia), a remnant of mixed old-growth forests of the Western Carpathians, we analyzed changes in tree species composition, stand structure, and creation and closure of [...] Read more.
Old-growth forests are a unique source of information for close-to-nature silviculture. In the National Nature Reserve Dobročský prales (Slovakia), a remnant of mixed old-growth forests of the Western Carpathians, we analyzed changes in tree species composition, stand structure, and creation and closure of canopy gaps. The results were based on data from forest inventories of an entire reserve conducted in 1978 and 2015, extended by detailed measurements in a research plot of 250 × 250 m. We observed the expansion of common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) at the expense of conifers (Abies alba Mill., Picea abies L. Karst.) in all layers of the stand. Due to a lack of conifers in the category of saplings >130 cm and an abundance of coniferous deadwood, we hypothesize that this development will lead to the dominance of beech. All development stages revealed a reverse J-shaped diameter structure; however, they differed in the majority of basic stand characteristics (e.g., growing stock, basal area, tree density, deadwood volume). Most of the structural indices did not differ between development stages, confirming a relatively high degree of structural differentiation throughout the development cycle. The total gap area reached 18%, with the dominance of small gaps ≤100 m2. Nevertheless, only canopy gaps >100 m2 formed by the mortality of three or more trees were of higher importance for the extensive establishment of natural regeneration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Changes in Species Composition in Alder Swamp Forest Following Forest Dieback
Forests 2018, 9(6), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060316
Received: 11 May 2018 / Revised: 30 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 2 June 2018
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Abstract
It is generally hypothesized that forest dieback is a characteristic of alder swamp forests (alder carrs, Alnion glutinosae alliance). Different internal and external factors may trigger this process, including human disturbance, changes in river discharge, unusually severe and prolonged flooding, terminal age of [...] Read more.
It is generally hypothesized that forest dieback is a characteristic of alder swamp forests (alder carrs, Alnion glutinosae alliance). Different internal and external factors may trigger this process, including human disturbance, changes in river discharge, unusually severe and prolonged flooding, terminal age of an even-aged alder forest (ca. 100–150 years) and others. Although forest dieback in this type of forest may cause major changes in environmental conditions, the influence of this change on the floristic composition has not been well recognized. The study aimed to detect any possible changes in floristic variation in alder swamp forest following forest dieback. Vegetation plots in alder swamp forests affected by forest dieback were resurveyed 20 years after a previous study. PERMANOVA was used to test the significance of the compositional change and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) with passively fitted means of the Ellenberg’s Indicator Values were used to interpret its ecological meaning. In addition, different structural and diversity indices were compared, including species richness, percentage cover of vegetation layers, Shannon and Simpson diversity and evenness. Finally, we analyzed changes in the frequency of vascular plant species using Chi square tests. We recorded clear and significant compositional changes following alder swamp forest dieback. This change was most related to the gradient of moisture, followed by the gradients of light and temperature. The analysis of the individual species showed that the species of hummocks declined, while the species of hollows increased. Moreover, the current communities are dominated by some hydrophytes that were not recorded 20 years ago. Forest dieback resulted in profound changes in the hydrological regime. The observed changes are consistent with a model of cyclic succession as proposed for alder swamps. In addition, we conclude that the natural forest dynamics have to be taken into consideration while interpreting the results of re-survey studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle High Mortality and Low Net Change in Live Woody Biomass of Karst Evergreen and Deciduous Broad-Leaved Mixed Forest in Southwestern China
Forests 2018, 9(5), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9050263
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 8 May 2018 / Accepted: 9 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
Repeated observation based on large permanent monitoring plots is a key method for directly understanding forest regeneration dynamics. Karst forests grow slowly in adverse habitats and possess a special regeneration mode. However, no data can support these properties because no repeated observations have [...] Read more.
Repeated observation based on large permanent monitoring plots is a key method for directly understanding forest regeneration dynamics. Karst forests grow slowly in adverse habitats and possess a special regeneration mode. However, no data can support these properties because no repeated observations have been performed. The mortality, recruitment, and net change in live woody biomass (NPPlw) of a karst evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest in Central Guizhou Province, Southwestern China, were studied on the basis of a short-term continuous monitoring (3 years) of a 2 ha plot. The species richness of individuals with a diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 1 cm decreased from 66 to 58 during the study period. Eight species disappeared, and no new species appeared. The individual number declined from 16,821 to 15,003 because most species indicated more deaths than recruitments. Trees presented the lowest mortality rate, and shrubs presented the highest recruitment rate among the species. Individual death number decreased with the increase in DBH classes. The estimated aboveground NPPlw was 8.41 t ha−1 year−1. The survivors, recruitments, and deaths contributed 10.88, 0.11, and −2.58 t ha−1 year−1, respectively. Trees (8.37 t ha−1 year−1), rather than shrubs (0.04 t ha−1 year−1) and lianas (−0.004 t ha−1 year−1), were the major contributors. The karst forest presented higher mortality and lower NPPlw than nonkarst forests in subtropical China and in the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Moderate Disturbance Has Similar Effects on Production Regardless of Site Quality and Composition
Forests 2018, 9(2), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9020070
Received: 16 December 2017 / Revised: 18 January 2018 / Accepted: 27 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
Moderate severity disturbances, which only kill a subset of canopy trees (e.g., via insects, pathogens, and windthrow), are increasingly widespread in North America, and can alter forest structure and production. Whether the net primary production (NPP) of forest stands differing in pre-disturbance site [...] Read more.
Moderate severity disturbances, which only kill a subset of canopy trees (e.g., via insects, pathogens, and windthrow), are increasingly widespread in North America, and can alter forest structure and production. Whether the net primary production (NPP) of forest stands differing in pre-disturbance site quality and composition respond similarly to moderate severity disturbance, however, is unknown, but critical to understanding the disturbance response dynamics of patchy landscapes. We experimentally disturbed three, 2-ha stands varying in pre-disturbance primary production and community composition, temporarily reducing live stand basal area by 38% to 66% through the stem girdling of all mature early successional aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx. and Populus grandidentata Michx.) and birch (Betula papyrifera Marshall). Disturbance significantly altered stand-scale physical and biological structure and prompted a similar decade-long pattern of wood NPP decline and recovery. All stands exhibited an initial reduction in wood NPP, followed by a recovery period and eventual return to pre-disturbance levels within eight years, with the most productive stand exhibiting an increase in primary production following recovery. Following wood NPP recovery, more biologically diverse forest canopies with higher leaf area indexes intercepted more light, and, consequently, had higher rates of wood NPP. We conclude that, despite substantial pre-disturbance differences in productivity and community composition, relative wood NPP recovery patterns can be similar, though long-term post-recovery primary production may trend higher in more productive and compositionally diverse stands. We suggest that improved mechanistic understanding of different forest ecosystems’ responses to disturbances remains critical to informing management decisions across diverse landscape mosaics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Detecting Shoot Beetle Damage on Yunnan Pine Using Landsat Time-Series Data
Forests 2018, 9(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9010039
Received: 6 December 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 13 January 2018 / Published: 22 January 2018
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Abstract
Tomicus yunnanensis and Tomicus minor have caused serious shoot damage in Yunnan pine forests in the Yunnan Province of China. However, very few remote sensing studies have estimated the shoot damage ratio (SDR). Thus, we used multi-date Landsat satellite imagery to quantify SDRs [...] Read more.
Tomicus yunnanensis and Tomicus minor have caused serious shoot damage in Yunnan pine forests in the Yunnan Province of China. However, very few remote sensing studies have estimated the shoot damage ratio (SDR). Thus, we used multi-date Landsat satellite imagery to quantify SDRs and assess the possibility of using spectral indices to determine the beetle outbreak time and spread direction. A new threshold-based classification method was proposed to identify damage levels (i.e., healthy, slightly to moderately infested, and severely infested forests) using time series of moisture stress index (MSI). Permanent plots and temporal field inspection data were both used as references for training and evaluation. Results show that a single threshold value can produce a total classification accuracy of 86.38% (Kappa = 0.80). Furthermore, time series maps detailing damage level were reconstructed from 2004 to 2016. The shoot beetle outbreak year was estimated to be 2013. Another interesting finding is the movement path of the geometric center of severe damage, which is highly consistent with the wind direction. We conclude that the time series of shoot damage level maps can be produced by using continuous MSI images. This method is very useful to foresters for determining the outbreak time and spread direction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Open AccessArticle Variability after 15 Years of Vegetation Recovery in Natural Secondary Forest with Timber Harvesting at Different Intensities in Southeastern China: Community Diversity and Stability
Forests 2018, 9(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9010040
Received: 21 November 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 18 January 2018
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Abstract
The mixed Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook., Pinus massoniana Lamb., and hardwood forest in southeastern China is a major assemblage in natural secondary forests, and of national and international importance in terms of both timber and ecosystem services. However, over-harvesting has threatened its long-term [...] Read more.
The mixed Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook., Pinus massoniana Lamb., and hardwood forest in southeastern China is a major assemblage in natural secondary forests, and of national and international importance in terms of both timber and ecosystem services. However, over-harvesting has threatened its long-term sustainability, and there is a knowledge gap relating to the effect of harvesting on the ecosystem. After conifer species were selected for harvesting, the mixed Chinese fir, pine, and hardwood forest was changed into mixed evergreen broadleaf forest. In this context, we observed the restoration dynamics of plant communities over a period of 15 years (1996 to 2011) with different levels of harvesting intensity, including selective harvesting at low (13.0% removal of growing stock volume), medium (29.1%), high (45.8%), and extra-high (67.1%) intensities, as well as clear-cut harvesting (100.0%), with non-harvesting as the control, based on permanent sample plots established in a randomized block design in these forests in southeastern China. The impact on the richness, diversity, and evenness of plant species derived from descriptive statistical analyses was shown to initially increase, and then decrease, with an increase in harvesting intensity. The most critical impacts were on the richness, diversity, and evenness of shrub and herb species. Richness, diversity, and evenness of plant species recovered and increased under selective harvesting at low and medium intensities, while these parameters had not recovered and significantly decreased under selective harvesting at high and extra-high intensities, as well as with clear-cut harvesting. The impact on the plant community stability was derived from the stability test method of the improved Godron M. The plant community stability was closest to the point of stability (20/80) under selective harvesting at medium intensity, followed by selective harvesting at low intensity. The plant community stability was far from the point of stability (20/80) under selective harvesting at high and extra-high intensities, as well as with clear-cut harvesting. Of these treatments, clear-cut harvesting had the greatest effect with regard to reducing stability. Therefore, these results indicate that the selective harvesting at low and medium intensities is conducive to preserve or increase the species diversity and community stability. In order to prioritize promoting plant species diversity, clear-cut harvesting and selective harvesting at high and extra-high intensities should be avoided with regard to this type of forest in this region. This study sheds light on the practice of forest operation in the study region and subtropical forests with the same environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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Review

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Open AccessReview What Are Intermediate-Severity Forest Disturbances and Why Are They Important?
Forests 2018, 9(9), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090579
Received: 16 July 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
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Abstract
The classification of discrete forest disturbance events is usually based on the spatial extent, magnitude, and frequency of the disturbance. Based on these characteristics, disturbances are placed into one of three broad categories, gap-scale, intermediate-severity, or catastrophic disturbance, along the disturbance classification gradient. [...] Read more.
The classification of discrete forest disturbance events is usually based on the spatial extent, magnitude, and frequency of the disturbance. Based on these characteristics, disturbances are placed into one of three broad categories, gap-scale, intermediate-severity, or catastrophic disturbance, along the disturbance classification gradient. We contend that our understanding of disturbance processes near the endpoints of the disturbance classification gradient far exceeds that of intermediate-severity events. We hypothesize that intermediate-severity disturbances are more common, and that they are more important drivers of forest ecosystem change than is commonly recognized. Here, we provide a review of intermediate-severity disturbances that includes proposed criteria for categorizing disturbances on the classification gradient. We propose that the canopy opening diameter to height ratio (D:H) be used to delineate gap-scale from intermediate-severity events and that the threshold between intermediate and catastrophic events be based on the influence of residual trees on the composition of the regeneration layer. We also provide examples of intermediate-severity disturbance agents, return intervals for these events, and recommendations for incorporating natural intermediate-severity disturbance patterns in silvicultural systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbance, Succession, and Development of Forests)
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