Topical Collection "Forest Environment and Ecology"

A topical collection in Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This collection belongs to the section "Plant Ecology".

Editors

Prof. Byung Bae Park
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Forest Resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea
Interests: ecological silviculture; qualified seedling production; restoration ecology; carbon sequestration by forest management; nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems; the response of plants to environmental change; forest soil management for forest health
Prof. Dr. LERMA SJ. MALDIA
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forest Biological Sciences, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños, 4031 Los Baños, College, Laguna, Philippines
Interests: plant community structure and composition; evolutionary biology of forest plant populations; ecological genetics of forest plants; forest biodiversity and genetic resources

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests provide innumerable ecological, social, and economic services. Besides providing food, water, air, and shelter for humans, they also mitigate climate change by acting as carbon sinks via carbon sequestration. Many of the ecological, biological, and chemical processes that are needed for trees to flourish are influenced by the forest environment. The complex interactions among the physical and biological components engender a resilient and stable forest structure and diverse composition. However, forests are under threat and pressure amid changes in climate and land use, which cause significant alterations in the forest environment in many regions. The capacity of the forest to support the forest plant community (especially trees) depends on factors of its physical environment, such as precipitation, temperature, soil, light, etc. For example, gas exchange across the forest strata depends upon the prevailing microclimatic and edaphic factors, and significant changes in these factors influence the capacity of the forest to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as the capacity to provide ecosystem services.

Because the climate is continuously changing, we must be able to fully understand the interactions between the physical and biological environments to help predict forest growth and tree survival, especially during restoration and regeneration processes. Hence, this Topical Collection "Forest Environment and Ecology" of Plants invites submission of original research in various fields of forest ecology with emphasis on physical environment and tree interactions. Long-term field and large-scale nursery-based observations and modeling of the forest physical environment at various levels (from population to ecosystem levels) and its interaction with trees across various developmental stages (from seeds, seedlings to mature trees) are most welcome. Because urban forests also provide many ecosystem services and the survival of trees therein largely depends on the physical environment, similar studies on the context of urban forest environment, whether field-based or under controlled conditions, are also encouraged.

Prof. Byung Bae Park
Prof. Dr. LERMA SJ. MALDIA
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • carbon sequestration
  • ecosystem services
  • edaphic and climatic factors
  • forest growth
  • forest structure
  • physical environment and tree interactions

Published Papers (10 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020

Article
Contrasting Hydraulic Efficiency and Photosynthesis Strategy in Differential Successional Stages of a Subtropical Forest in a Karst Region
Plants 2021, 10(12), 2604; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10122604 - 27 Nov 2021
Viewed by 289
Abstract
Understanding the successional process from a disturbed forest to a mature forest is essential for species recovery and conservation initiatives. The resource acquisition and drought tolerance of plants can be instructive to predictions of species abundance and distribution for different forests. However, they [...] Read more.
Understanding the successional process from a disturbed forest to a mature forest is essential for species recovery and conservation initiatives. The resource acquisition and drought tolerance of plants can be instructive to predictions of species abundance and distribution for different forests. However, they have not been adequately tested at different successional stages in karst regions. Here, we selected seven dominant species in an early-succession forest and 17 species in a late-succession forest in a karst region of southwestern China. Resource acquisition-related traits such as hydraulic conductivity and photosynthetic rate, and drought tolerance-related traits, including turgor loss point and wood density, were measured. We found that species in the early-succession forest had a higher hydraulic conductance and photosynthetic rate than those in the late-succession forest, while leaf water potential at turgor loss point and wood density showed nonsignificant differences between the two forests. In addition, we observed a significant negative relationship between photosynthetic rate and drought tolerance in the early-succession forest, which was not identified in late-succession forests. Our study indicates that resource acquisition rather than drought tolerance was the key factor explaining plant distributions in forests at different successional stages in karst regions. We also suggest that the resource acquisition and drought tolerance trade-off hypothesis is not always supported for karst region species. Our study could inform about the design of species replacements in successional forests and provide forest management and restoration guidelines for karst regions. Full article
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Article
Species Distribution Pattern and Their Contribution in Plant Community Assembly in Response to Ecological Gradients of the Ecotonal Zone in the Himalayan Region
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2372; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112372 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 585
Abstract
The ecotonal zones support populations that are acclimated to changing, fluctuating, and unstable conditions, and as a result, these populations are better equipped to adjust to expected change. In this context, a hypothesis was tested that there must be vegetation dominated by unique [...] Read more.
The ecotonal zones support populations that are acclimated to changing, fluctuating, and unstable conditions, and as a result, these populations are better equipped to adjust to expected change. In this context, a hypothesis was tested that there must be vegetation dominated by unique indicator plant species under the influence of ecological gradients in the ecotonal zone of Manoor Valley (northwestern Himalaya), Pakistan. Keeping the aforementioned hypothesis in mind, detailed field studies were conducted during different seasons in 2015-18. Line transect sampling and phytosociological characteristics (density, frequency, cover, and their relative values and Importance Value) were implemented as ecological methods. This investigation documented 97 plant species recorded from seven sampling sites. The community distribution modelling revealed that the ecological variables separate the seven sampling sites into two major plant communities (Indigofera-Parrotiopsis-Bistorta and Ziziphus-Leptopus-Quercus) recognized by TWINSPAN. The IBP communities showed a positive and significant correlation with altitude (1789.6–1896.3 m), sandy soil texture with a slightly acidic pH (6.4–6.5), and higher phosphorous (9–13 mg kg−1). In contrast with this, the ZLQ community was recognized on the southern slope under the strong influence of high electrical conductivity (2.82–5.4 dsm−1), organic matter (1.08–1.25%), calcium carbonate (5.8–7.6 mg kg−1), potassium (202–220 mg kg−1), and temperature (28.8–31.8 °C). Hence, both communities were found on opposite axes with clear differences based on the ecological gradients. NMDS clustered different species with similar habitats and different stands with common species, showing that plant species and stands were in a linear combination with ecological gradients. The IPB community has the maximum number of plant species (87 species), Shannon value (H’ = 4), Simpson value (0.98), and Pielou’s evenness value (0.96). Thus, the multivariate approaches revealed unique vegetation with sharp boundaries between communities which might be due to abrupt environmental changes. Full article
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Article
The Effect of Low Irradiance on Leaf Nitrogen Allocation and Mesophyll Conductance to CO2 in Seedlings of Four Tree Species in Subtropical China
Plants 2021, 10(10), 2213; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10102213 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 495
Abstract
Low light intensity can lead to a decrease in photosynthetic capacity. However, could N-fixing species with higher leaf N contents mitigate the effects of low light? Here, we exposed seedlings of Dalbergia odorifera and Erythrophleum fordii (N-fixing trees), and Castanopsis hystrix and Betula [...] Read more.
Low light intensity can lead to a decrease in photosynthetic capacity. However, could N-fixing species with higher leaf N contents mitigate the effects of low light? Here, we exposed seedlings of Dalbergia odorifera and Erythrophleum fordii (N-fixing trees), and Castanopsis hystrix and Betula alnoides (non-N-fixing trees) to three irradiance treatments (100%, 40%, and 10% sunlight) to investigate the effects of low irradiance on leaf structure, leaf N allocation strategy, and photosynthetic physiological parameters in the seedlings. Low irradiance decreased the leaf mass per unit area, leaf N content per unit area (Narea), maximum carboxylation rate (Vcmax), maximum electron transport rate (Jmax), light compensation point, and light saturation point, and increased the N allocation proportion of light-harvesting components in all species. The studied tree seedlings changed their leaf structures, leaf N allocation strategy, and photosynthetic physiological parameters to adapt to low-light environments. N-fixing plants had a higher photosynthesis rate, Narea, Vcmax, and Jmax than non-N-fixing species under low irradiance and had a greater advantage in maintaining their photosynthetic rate under low-radiation conditions, such as under an understory canopy, in a forest gap, or when mixed with other species. Full article
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Article
Effects of Shade and Planting Methods on the Growth of Heracleum moellendorffii and Adenophora divaricata in Different Soil Moisture and Nutrient Conditions
Plants 2021, 10(10), 2203; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10102203 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 362
Abstract
In this study, the interacting effects of shade and planting methods on the growth and competitive ability of two understory plants Heracleum moellendorffii Hance and Adenophora divaricata Franch. & Sav. were investigated under different soil moisture and nutrient conditions. One-year-old seedlings were subjected [...] Read more.
In this study, the interacting effects of shade and planting methods on the growth and competitive ability of two understory plants Heracleum moellendorffii Hance and Adenophora divaricata Franch. & Sav. were investigated under different soil moisture and nutrient conditions. One-year-old seedlings were subjected to different light levels (0%, 35%, and 55% shade) and planting methods (monoculture and mixed) under contrasting soil moisture (1.2 L/m2 and 2.3 L/m2 of water) and soil nutrient conditions (unfertilized and fertilized). Here, shading significantly improved the height growth of H. moellendorffii (10–20 cm increase) in unfertilized and fertilized plots and at high soil moisture conditions. Contrarily, A. divaricata seedlings planted singly at full sunlight yielded a higher aboveground biomass growth (8–17 g plant−1), compared with those shaded and intercropped seedlings (0.9–3.9 g plant−1). The increased competitiveness of H. moellendorffii suppressed the growth of A. divaricata across different light conditions when planted together. The amount of light, soil moisture, and nutrients and their interactions significantly affected the growth of the seedlings, resulting in asymmetric interspecific competition between the two species. Results provide us with a better understanding of the environmental factors affecting plant growth for forest farming in the understory. Full article
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Article
A Decade’s Change in Vegetation Productivity and Its Response to Climate Change over Northeast China
Plants 2021, 10(5), 821; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050821 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 564
Abstract
In this study, we simulated vegetation net primary productivity (NPP) using the boreal ecosystem productivity simulator (BEPS) between 2003 and 2012 over Northeast China, a region that is significantly affected by climate change. The NPP was then validated against the measurements that were [...] Read more.
In this study, we simulated vegetation net primary productivity (NPP) using the boreal ecosystem productivity simulator (BEPS) between 2003 and 2012 over Northeast China, a region that is significantly affected by climate change. The NPP was then validated against the measurements that were calculated from tree ring data, with a determination coefficient (R2) = 0.84 and the root mean square error (RMSE) = 42.73 gC/m2·a. Overall, the NPP showed an increasing trend over Northeast China, with the average rate being 4.48 gC/m2·a. Subsequently, partial correlation and lag analysis were conducted between the NPP and climatic factors. The partial correlation analysis suggested that temperature was the predominant factor that accounted for changes in the forest NPP. Solar radiation was the main factor that affected the forest NPP, and the grass NPP was the most closely associated with precipitation. The relative humidity substantially affected the annual variability of the shrub and crop NPPs. The lag time of the NPP related to precipitation increased with the vegetation growth, and it was found that the lag period of the forest was longer than that of grass and crops, whereas the cumulative lag month of the forest was shorter. This comprehensive analysis of the response of the vegetation NPP to climate change can provide scientific references for the managing departments that oversee relevant resources. Full article
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Article
Anthropogenic Pressure on Tree Species Diversity, Composition, and Growth of Balanites aegyptiaca in Dinder Biosphere Reserve, Sudan
Plants 2021, 10(3), 483; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10030483 - 04 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 823
Abstract
Anthropogenic disturbances, such as illegal harvesting and livestock browsing, often affect natural forests. However, the resulting tree species diversity, composition, and population structure have rarely been quantified. We assessed tree species diversity and importance value indices and, in particular, Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del. [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic disturbances, such as illegal harvesting and livestock browsing, often affect natural forests. However, the resulting tree species diversity, composition, and population structure have rarely been quantified. We assessed tree species diversity and importance value indices and, in particular, Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del. population structure, across 100 sample plots of 25 m × 40 m in disturbed and non-disturbed sites at the Dinder Biosphere Reserve, Sudan, from April 2019 to April 2020. We found that the tree species diversity in non-disturbed sites was more than double that of disturbed sites (p < 0.001, T = 32.6), and seedlings and saplings comprised more than 72% of the entire tree population (F2,48 = 116.4, p = 0.034; F2,48 = 163.2, p = 0.021, respectively). The tree density of B. aegyptiaca in the disturbed site was less than half that of the non-disturbed site (p = 0.018, T = 2.6). Balanites aegyptiaca was seven times more aggregated in disturbed sites compared to more regularly spaced trees in non-disturbed sites (T = 39.3 and p < 0.001). The poor B. aegyptiaca population status of the disturbed site shows that the conservation of this vulnerable species is essential for a sustainable management and utilization scheme. Full article
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Review
Climate-Driven Plant Response and Resilience on the Tibetan Plateau in Space and Time: A Review
Plants 2021, 10(3), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10030480 - 04 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1326
Abstract
Climate change variation on a small scale may alter the underlying processes determining a pattern operating at large scale and vice versa. Plant response to climate change on individual plant levels on a fine scale tends to change population structure, community composition and [...] Read more.
Climate change variation on a small scale may alter the underlying processes determining a pattern operating at large scale and vice versa. Plant response to climate change on individual plant levels on a fine scale tends to change population structure, community composition and ecosystem processes and functioning. Therefore, we reviewed the literature on plant response and resilience to climate change in space and time at different scales on the Tibetan Plateau. We report that spatiotemporal variation in temperature and precipitation dynamics drives the vegetation and ecosystem function on the Tibetan Plateau (TP), following the water–energy dynamics hypothesis. Increasing temperature with respect to time increased the net primary productivity (NPP) on most parts of the Tibetan Plateau, but the productivity dynamics on some parts were constrained by 0.3 °C decade−1 rising temperature. Moreover, we report that accelerating studies on plant community assemblage and their contribution to ecosystem functioning may help to identify the community response and resilience to climate extremes. Furthermore, records on species losses help to build the sustainable management plan for the entire Tibetan Plateau. We recommend that incorporating long-term temporal data with multiple factor analyses will be helpful to formulate the appropriate measures for a healthy ecosystem on the Tibetan Plateau. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021

Review
Research Trends and Methodological Approaches of the Impacts of Windstorms on Forests in Tropical, Subtropical, and Temperate Zones: Where Are We Now and How Should Research Move Forward?
Plants 2020, 9(12), 1709; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9121709 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
Windstorm is one of the destructive natural disturbances, but the scale-link extent to which recurrent windstorms influenced forests ecosystems is poorly understood in a changing climate across regions. We reviewed the synergistic impacts of windstorms on forests and assessed research trends and methodological [...] Read more.
Windstorm is one of the destructive natural disturbances, but the scale-link extent to which recurrent windstorms influenced forests ecosystems is poorly understood in a changing climate across regions. We reviewed the synergistic impacts of windstorms on forests and assessed research trends and methodological approaches from peer-reviewed articles published from 2000 to 2020 in tropical (TRF), subtropical (SUF), and temperate (TEF) forests/zones, based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Overall, the majority of the reviewed studies were conducted in TRF (i.e., 40%), intermediate in SUF (i.e., 34%), and the lowest in TEF (i.e., 26%). Among the four levels of biological organization, the species-population and community-ecosystem levels had the highest number of study cases, while the molecular-cellular-individual and landscape levels had the lowest study cases in all forest types. Most of the articles reviewed dealt largely on tree mortality/survival and regeneration/succession for TRF, tree mortality/survival and species composition/richness/diversity for SUF, and stem density, gap dynamics, and regeneration/succession for TEF. However, research on the effects of windstorms on mycorrhizal symbioses, population genetics, and physiological adaptation, element fluxes via litterfall, litter decomposition, belowground processes, biological invasion, and tree health are less common in all forest types. Further, most of the studies were conducted in permanent plots but these studies mostly used observational design, while controlled studies are obviously limited. Consequently, more observational and controlled studies are needed on the topic reviewed, particularly studies at the molecular-cellular-individual and landscape levels, to help inform forest management decision-making about developing sustainable and resilient forests amid climate change. Full article
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Review
Successional Categorization of European Hemi-boreal Forest Tree Species
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1381; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9101381 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1181
Abstract
Developing forest harvesting regimes that mimic natural forest dynamics requires knowledge on typical species behaviors and how they respond to environmental conditions. Species regeneration and survival after disturbance depends on a species’ life history traits. Therefore, forest succession determines the extent to which [...] Read more.
Developing forest harvesting regimes that mimic natural forest dynamics requires knowledge on typical species behaviors and how they respond to environmental conditions. Species regeneration and survival after disturbance depends on a species’ life history traits. Therefore, forest succession determines the extent to which forest communities are able to cope with environmental change. The aim of this review was to (i) review the life history dynamics of hemi-boreal tree species in the context of ecological succession, and (ii) categorize each of these tree species into one of four successional development groups (gap colonizers, gap competitors, forest colonizers, or forest competitors). To do this we embraced the super-organism approach to plant communities using their life history dynamics and traits. Our review touches on the importance and vulnerability of these four types of successional groups, their absence and presence in the community, and how they can be used as a core component to evaluate if the development of the community is progressing towards the restoration of the climatic climax. Applying a theoretical framework to generate ideas, we suggest that forests should be managed to maintain environmental conditions that support the natural variety and sequence of tree species’ life histories by promoting genetic invariance and to help secure ecosystem resilience for the future. This could be achieved by employing harvesting methods that emulate natural disturbances and regeneration programs that contribute to maintenance of the four successional groups. Full article
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Article
Effects of Increased N Deposition on Leaf Functional Traits of Four Contrasting Tree Species in Northeast China
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1231; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091231 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Northeast China is persistently affected by heavy nitrogen (N) deposition. Studying the induced variation in leaf traits is pivotal to develop an understanding of the adaptive plasticity of affected species. This study thus assesses effects of increased N deposition on leaf morphological and [...] Read more.
Northeast China is persistently affected by heavy nitrogen (N) deposition. Studying the induced variation in leaf traits is pivotal to develop an understanding of the adaptive plasticity of affected species. This study thus assesses effects of increased N deposition on leaf morphological and anatomical traits and their correlation among and with biomass allocation patterns. A factorial experiment was conducted utilizing seedlings of two gymnosperms (Larix gmelinii, Pinus koraiensis) and two angiosperms (Fraxinus mandshurica, Tilia amurensis). Leaf mass per area and leaf density decreased and leaf thickness increased under high N deposition but trait interrelations remained stable. In gymnosperms, leaf mass per area was correlated to both leaf thickness and area, while being correlated to leaf density only in angiosperms. Epidermis, mesophyll thickness, conduit and vascular bundle diameter increased. Despite the differences in taxonomic groups and leaf habits, the common patterns of variation suggest that a certain degree of convergence exists between the species’ reaction towards N deposition. However, stomata pore length increased in angiosperms, and decreased in gymnosperms under N deposition. Furthermore, biomass and leaf mass fraction were correlated to leaf traits in gymnosperms only, suggesting a differential coordination of leaf traits and biomass allocation patterns under high N deposition per taxonomic group. Full article
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