ResearchPad - temperate-forests https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effect of forest management on tree diversity in temperate ecosystem forests in northern Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15742 An important challenge for silvicultural practices is the conservation of tree diversity while fulfilling the traditional objectives of forest management, most notably timber harvesting. The purpose of this study was to compare the tree diversity before and after the application of silvicultural treatments in a temperate forest in northern Mexico. Fifteen experimental plots, each measuring 2500 m2, were established to evaluate the immediate effect of four silvicultural treatments. These treatments were identified by their levels of management: intensive (clearcut, removal 100%), semi-intensive (removal of 59–61% of basal area), conservative (removal of 29–31% of basal area), and a control group. New forest guidelines, in contrast to conventional approaches, were applied to the semi-intensive and conservative treatments based on health and diversity conditions. Basal area, canopy cover, tree and total volume were measured in each plot. The Importance Value Index, alpha diversity, and evenness were estimated before and after treatments. Eighteen species belonging to five genera and five families were found in the study area. The species with the highest ecological values were Pinus durangensis, P. teocote, Quercus sideroxyla, and Quercus convallata with IVI numbers between 13.6 and 24.5%. Alpha diversity was intermediate (Margalef: 2.9 to 3.8), while dominance and evenness were above average compared to other studies (Simpson: 0.69 to 0.77; Shannon-Wiener: 1.44 to 1.6; Pielou: 0.76 to 0.85). The species evenness index in the conservative treatment was high (Sorensen, Jaccard, quantitative Sorensen and Morisita-Horn; 88 to 99%), although abundance decreased. Overall, there were no significant differences in IVI values and diversity indicators before and after treatments, with the exception of the clearcut treatment. When associating the diversity indices with stand variables, only the Pielou’s evenness index showed a significant relationship between them. We concluded that both the conservative and semi-intensive treatments did not generate significant changes in tree diversity, but the former had slightly higher alpha diversity indices. These results can provide a better insight on silvicultural practices and their effects on species composition.

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<![CDATA[Long-term exposure to more frequent disturbances increases baseline carbon in some ecosystems: Mapping and quantifying the disturbance frequency-ecosystem C relationship]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c785015d5eed0c484007c44

Disturbance regimes have a major influence on the baseline carbon that characterizes any particular ecosystem. Often regimes result in lower average regional baseline C (compared to those same systems if the disturbance processes were lessened/removed). However, in infrequently disturbed systems the role of disturbance as a “background” process that influences broad-scale, baseline C levels is often neglected. Long-term chronosequences suggest disturbances in these systems may serve to increase regional biomass C stocks by maintaining productivity. However, that inference has not been tested spatially. Here, the large forested system of southeast Alaska, USA, is utilized to 1) estimate baseline regional C stocks, 2) test the fundamental disturbance-ecosystem C relationship, 3) estimate the cumulative impact of disturbances on baseline C. Using 1491 ground points with carbon measurements and a novel way of mapping disturbance regimes, the relationship between total biomass C, disturbance exposure, and climate was analyzed statistically. A spatial model was created to determine regional C and compare different disturbance scenarios. In this infrequently disturbed ecosystem, higher disturbance exposure is correlated with higher biomass C, supporting the hypothesis that disturbances maintain productivity at broad scales. The region is estimated to potentially contain a baseline 1.21–1.52 Pg biomass C (when unmanaged). Removal of wind and landslides from the model resulted in lower net C stocks (-2 to -19% reduction), though the effect was heterogeneous on finer scales. There removal of landslides alone had a larger effect then landslide and wind combined removal. The relationship between higher disturbance exposure and higher biomass within the broad ecosystem (which, on average, has a very low disturbance frequency) suggest that disturbances can serve maintain higher levels of productivity in infrequently disturbed but very C dense ecosystems. Carbon research in other systems, especially those where disturbances are infrequent relative to successional processes, should consider the role of disturbances in maintaining baseline ecosystem productivity.

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<![CDATA[Culturally modified trees or wasted timber: Different approaches to marked trees in Poland’s Białowieża Forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c52182ed5eed0c4847976a4

Studies of past forest use traditions are crucial in both understanding the present state of the oldest European forests, and in guiding decisions on future forest conservation and management. Current management of Poland’s Białowieża Forest (BF), one of the best-preserved forests of the European lowlands, is heavily influenced by anecdotal knowledge on forest history. Therefore, it is important to gain knowledge of the forest’s past in order to answer questions about its historical administration, utilisation, and associated anthropogenic changes. Such understanding can then inform future management. This study, based on surveys in Belarussian and Russian archives and a preliminary field survey in ten forest compartments of Białowieża National Park, focuses on culturally-modified trees (CMTs), which in this case are by-products of different forms of traditional forest use. Information about the formation of the CMTs can then be used to provide insight into former forest usage. Two types of CMTs were discovered to be still present in the contemporary BF. One type found in two forms was of 1) pine trees scorched and chopped in the bottom part of the trunk and 2) pine trees with carved beehives. A second type based on written accounts, and therefore known to be present in the past (what we call a ‘ghost CMT’), was of 3) lime-trees with strips of bark peeled from the trunk. Written accounts cover the period of transition between the traditional forest management (BF as a Polish royal hunting ground, until the end of the eighteenth century) and modern, “scientific” forestry (in most European countries introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century). These accounts document that both types of CMTs and the traditional forest uses responsible for their creation were considered harmful to “rational forestry” by the nineteenth-century forest administration. Thus the practices which created CMTs were banned and the trees gradually removed from the forest. Indeed, these activities drew the attention of forest administrators for several decades, and in our view delayed the introduction of new, timber-oriented, forest management in the BF.

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<![CDATA[Flocking propensity by satellites, but not core members of mixed-species flocks, increases when individuals experience energetic deficits in a poor-quality foraging habitat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5c1d5eed0c484ca8266

Mixed-species bird flocks are complex social systems comprising core and satellite members. Flocking species are sensitive to habitat disturbance, but we are only beginning to understand how species-specific responses to habitat disturbance affect interspecific associations in these flocks. Here we demonstrate the effects of human-induced habitat disturbance on flocking species’ behavior, demography, and individual condition within a remnant network of temperate deciduous forest patches in Indiana, USA. Specifically, we characterized the following properties of two core species, Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis) and tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor), across a secondary-forest disturbance gradient: foraging time budgets, home range size, fat scores, fledgling counts, survival rates, and abundance. We also report fat scores for two satellite species that flock with the core study species: white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) and downy woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens). Finally, we assess mixed-species flock sizes and composition, in addition to avian predator call rates, across the disturbance gradient. Foraging time budgets and home range size were highest and fat scores were lowest for core species in the most-disturbed site. Fat scores of two satellite species followed the same pattern. Additionally, the number of tufted titmice fledglings and winter survival rate of Carolina chickadees were lowest at the most-disturbed site. These results suggest that core species in the most-disturbed site experienced energetic deficits. Moreover, cumulative calling rate of raptors was lowest at the most-disturbed site, and none of the individual raptor species call rates were higher at the most-disturbed site—suggesting that perception of predation risk does not contribute to these patterns. Surprisingly, the satellites continued associating with mixed species flocks through the breeding season at the most-disturbed site. Total flock size and interspecific association patterns were otherwise consistent across the gradient. The fact that satellites continued to flock with core species during the breeding season suggests foraging niche expansion resulting from mixed-species flocking is important in disturbed sites even beyond the winter season. Our study reveals mechanisms underlying flock composition of birds surviving in remnant forest and links the mechanisms to degradation of foraging habitat. These findings offer important insight into the relative impact potential of forest disturbance on mixed-species flocks in the North Temperate Zone.

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<![CDATA[Geographical Variation in Body Size and Sexual Size Dimorphism in an Australian Lizard, Boulenger's Skink (Morethia boulengeri)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db44ab0ee8fa60bd7b49

Ecogeographical rules help explain spatial and temporal patterns in intraspecific body size. However, many of these rules, when applied to ectothermic organisms such as reptiles, are controversial and require further investigation. To explore factors that influence body size in reptiles, we performed a heuristic study to examine body size variation in an Australian lizard, Boulenger's Skink Morethia boulengeri from agricultural landscapes in southern New South Wales, south-eastern Australia. We collected tissue and morphological data on 337 adult lizards across a broad elevation and climate gradient. We used a model-selection procedure to determine if environmental or ecological variables best explained body size variation. We explored the relationship between morphology and phylogenetic structure before modeling candidate variables from four broad domains: (1) geography (latitude, longitude and elevation), (2) climate (temperature and rainfall), (3) habitat (vegetation type, number of logs and ground cover attributes), and (4) management (land use and grazing history). Broad phylogenetic structure was evident, but on a scale larger than our study area. Lizards were sexually dimorphic, whereby females had longer snout-vent length than males, providing support for the fecundity selection hypothesis. Body size variation in M. boulengeri was correlated with temperature and rainfall, a pattern consistent with larger individuals occupying cooler and more productive parts of the landscape. Climate change forecasts, which predict warmer temperature and increased aridity, may result in reduced lizard biomass and decoupling of trophic interactions with potential implications for community organization and ecosystem function.

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<![CDATA[Multiple Browsers Structure Tree Recruitment in Logged Temperate Forests]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dacdab0ee8fa60bb5006

Historical extirpations have resulted in depauperate large herbivore assemblages in many northern forests. In eastern North America, most forests are inhabited by a single wild ungulate species, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and relationships between deer densities and impacts on forest regeneration are correspondingly well documented. Recent recolonizations by moose (Alces americanus) in northeastern regions complicate established deer density thresholds and predictions of browsing impacts on forest dynamics because size and foraging differences between the two animals suggest a lack of functional redundancy. We asked to what extent low densities of deer + moose would structure forest communities differently from that of low densities of deer in recently logged patch cuts of Massachusetts, USA. In each site, a randomized block with three treatment levels of large herbivores–no-ungulates (full exclosure), deer (partial exclosure), and deer + moose (control) was established. After 6–7 years, deer + moose reduced stem densities and basal area by 2-3-fold, Prunus pensylvanica and Quercus spp. recruitment by 3–6 fold, and species richness by 1.7 species (19%). In contrast, in the partial exclosures, deer had non-significant effects on stem density, basal area, and species composition, but significantly reduced species richness by 2.5 species on average (28%). Deer browsing in the partial exclosure was more selective than deer + moose browsing together, perhaps contributing to the decline in species richness in the former treatment and the lack of additional decline in the latter. Moose used the control plots at roughly the same frequency as deer (as determined by remote camera traps), suggesting that the much larger moose was the dominant browser species in terms of animal biomass in these cuts. A lack of functional redundancy with respect to foraging behavior between sympatric large herbivores may explain combined browsing effects that were both large and complex.

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<![CDATA[Large Impacts of Climatic Warming on Growth of Boreal Forests since 1960]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da79ab0ee8fa60b97e9e

Boreal forests are sensitive to climatic warming, because low temperatures hold back ecosystem processes, such as the mobilization of nitrogen in soils. A greening of the boreal landscape has been observed using remote sensing, and the seasonal amplitude of CO2 in the northern hemisphere has increased, indicating warming effects on ecosystem productivity. However, field observations on responses of ecosystem productivity have been lacking on a large sub-biome scale. Here we report a significant increase in the annual growth of boreal forests in Finland in response to climatic warming, especially since 1990. This finding is obtained by linking meteorological records and forest inventory data on an area between 60° and 70° northern latitude. An additional increase in growth has occurred in response to changes in other drivers, such as forest management, nitrogen deposition and/or CO2 concentration. A similar warming impact can be expected in the entire boreal zone, where warming takes place. Given the large size of the boreal biome – more than ten million km2– important climate feedbacks are at stake, such as the future carbon balance, transpiration and albedo.

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<![CDATA[Isoprene Emissions from Downy Oak under Water Limitation during an Entire Growing Season: What Cost for Growth?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db05ab0ee8fa60bc8267

Increases in the production of terpene- and phenolic-like compounds in plant species under abiotic stress conditions have been interpreted in physiological studies as a supplementary defense system due to their capacity to limit cell oxidation. From an ecological perspective however, these increases are only expected to confer competitive advantages if they do not imply a significant cost for the plant, that is, growth reduction. We investigated shifts of isoprene emissions, and to a lesser extent phenolic compound concentration, of Quercus pubescens Willd. from early leaf development to leaf senescence under optimal watering (control: C), mild and severe water stress (MS, SS). The impact of water stress was concomitantly assessed on plant physiological (chlorophyll fluorescence, stomatal conductance, net photosynthesis, water potential) functional (relative leaf water content, leaf mass per area ratio) and growth (aerial and root biomass) traits. Growth changes allowed to estimate the eventual costs related to the production of isoprene and phenolics. The total phenolic content was not modified under water stress whereas isoprene emissions were promoted under MS over the entire growing cycle despite the decline of Pn by 35%. Under SS, isoprene emissions remained similar to C all over the study despite the decline of Pn by 47% and were thereby clearly uncoupled to Pn leading to an overestimation of the isoprene emission factor by 44%. Under SS, maintenance of isoprene emissions and phenolic compound concentration resulted in very significant costs for the plants as growth rates were very significantly reduced. Under MS, increases of isoprene emission and maintenance of phenolic compound concentration resulted in moderate growth reduction. Hence, it is likely that investment in isoprene emissions confers Q. pubescens an important competitive advantage during moderate but not severe periods of water scarcity. Consequences of this response for air quality in North Mediterranean areas are also discussed.

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<![CDATA[The Value of Countryside Elements in the Conservation of a Threatened Arboreal Marsupial Petaurus norfolcensis in Agricultural Landscapes of South-Eastern Australia—The Disproportional Value of Scattered Trees]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d7ab0ee8fa60b66272

Human activities, particularly agriculture, have transformed much of the world's terrestrial environment. Within these anthropogenic landscapes, a variety of relictual and semi-natural habitats exist, which we term countryside elements. The habitat value of countryside elements (hereafter termed ‘elements’) is increasingly recognised. We quantify the relative value of four kinds of such ‘elements’ (linear roadside remnants, native vegetation patches, scattered trees and tree plantings) used by a threatened Australian arboreal marsupial, the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis). We examined relationships between home range size and the availability of each ‘element’ and whether the usage was relative to predicted levels of use. The use of ‘elements’ by gliders was largely explained by their availability, but there was a preference for native vegetation patches and scattered trees. We found home range size was significantly smaller with increasing area of scattered trees and a contrasting effect with increasing area of linear roadside remnants or native vegetation patches. Our work showed that each ‘element’ was used and as such had a role in the conservation of the squirrel glider, but their relative value varied. We illustrate the need to assess the conservation value of countryside elements so they can be incorporated into the holistic management of agricultural landscapes. This work demonstrates the disproportional value of scattered trees, underscoring the need to specifically incorporate and/or enhance the protection and recruitment of scattered trees in biodiversity conservation policy and management.

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<![CDATA[The underlying processes of a soil mite metacommunity on a small scale]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf604

Metacommunity theory provides an understanding of how ecological processes regulate local community assemblies. However, few field studies have evaluated the underlying mechanisms of a metacommunity on a small scale through revealing the relative roles of spatial and environmental filtering in structuring local community composition. Based on a spatially explicit sampling design in 2012 and 2013, this study aims to evaluate the underlying processes of a soil mite metacommunity on a small spatial scale (50 m) in a temperate deciduous forest located at the Maoershan Ecosystem Research Station, Northeast China. Moran’s eigenvector maps (MEMs) were used to model independent spatial variables. The relative importance of spatial (including trend variables, i.e., geographical coordinates, and broad- and fine-scale spatial variables) and environmental factors in driving the soil mite metacommunity was determined by variation partitioning. Mantel and partial Mantel tests and a redundancy analysis (RDA) were also used to identify the relative contributions of spatial and environmental variables. The results of variation partitioning suggested that the relatively large and significant variance was a result of spatial variables (including broad- and fine-scale spatial variables and trend), indicating the importance of dispersal limitation and autocorrelation processes. The significant contribution of environmental variables was detected in 2012 based on a partial Mantel test, and soil moisture and soil organic matter were especially important for the soil mite metacommunity composition in both years. The study suggested that the soil mite metacommunity was primarily regulated by dispersal limitation due to broad-scale and neutral biotic processes at a fine-scale and that environmental filtering might be of subordinate importance. In conclusion, a combination of metacommunity perspectives between neutral and species sorting theories was suggested to be important in the observed structure of the soil mite metacommunity at the studied small scale.

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<![CDATA[A global review of past land use, climate, and active vs. passive restoration effects on forest recovery]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdba0c

Global forest restoration targets have been set, yet policy makers and land managers lack guiding principles on how to invest limited resources to achieve them. We conducted a meta-analysis of 166 studies in naturally regenerating and actively restored forests worldwide to answer: (1) To what extent do floral and faunal abundance and diversity and biogeochemical functions recover? (2) Does recovery vary as a function of past land use, time since restoration, forest region, or precipitation? (3) Does active restoration result in more complete or faster recovery than passive restoration? Overall, forests showed a high level of recovery, but the time to recovery depended on the metric type measured, past land use, and region. Abundance recovered quickly and completely, whereas diversity recovered slower in tropical than in temperate forests. Biogeochemical functions recovered more slowly after agriculture than after logging or mining. Formerly logged sites were mostly passively restored and generally recovered quickly. Mined sites were nearly always actively restored using a combination of planting and either soil amendments or recontouring topography, which resulted in rapid recovery of the metrics evaluated. Actively restoring former agricultural land, primarily by planting trees, did not result in consistently faster or more complete recovery than passively restored sites. Our results suggest that simply ending the land use is sufficient for forests to recover in many cases, but more studies are needed that directly compare the value added of active versus passive restoration strategies in the same system. Investments in active restoration should be evaluated relative to the past land use, the natural resilience of the system, and the specific objectives of each project.

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<![CDATA[Modelling Vulnerability and Range Shifts in Ant Communities Responding to Future Global Warming in Temperate Forests]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dac1ab0ee8fa60bb0bf3

Global warming is likely leading to species’ distributional shifts, resulting in changes in local community compositions and diversity patterns. In this study, we applied species distribution models to evaluate the potential impacts of temperature increase on ant communities in Korean temperate forests, by testing hypotheses that 1) the risk of extinction of forest ant species would increase over time, and 2) the changes in species distribution ranges could drive upward movements of ant communities and further alter patterns of species richness. We sampled ant communities at 335 evenly distributed sites across South Korea and modelled the future distribution range for each species using generalized additive models. To account for spatial autocorrelation, autocovariate regressions were conducted prior to generalized additive models. Among 29 common ant species, 12 species were estimated to shrink their suitable geographic areas, whereas five species would benefit from future global warming. Species richness was highest at low altitudes in the current period, and it was projected to be highest at the mid-altitudes in the 2080s, resulting in an upward movement of 4.9 m yr−1. This altered the altitudinal pattern of species richness from a monotonic-decrease curve (common in temperate regions) to a bell-shaped curve (common in tropical regions). Overall, ant communities in temperate forests are vulnerable to the on-going global warming and their altitudinal movements are similar to other faunal communities.

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<![CDATA[Demography of Symbiotic Nitrogen-Fixing Trees Explains Their Rarity and Successional Decline in Temperate Forests in the United States]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da09ab0ee8fa60b76d22

Symbiotic nitrogen (N) fixation is the major N input to many ecosystems. Although temperate forests are commonly N limited, symbiotic N-fixing trees (“N fixers”) are rare and decline in abundance as succession proceeds–a challenging paradox that remains unexplained. Understanding demographic processes that underlie N fixers’ rarity and successional decline would provide a proximate answer to the paradox. Do N fixers grow slower, die more frequently, or recruit less in temperate forests? We quantified demographic rates of N-fixing and non-fixing trees across succession using U.S. forest inventory data. We used an individual-based model to evaluate the relative contribution of each demographic process to community dynamics. Compared to non-fixers, N fixers had lower growth rates, higher mortality rates, and lower recruitment rates throughout succession. The mortality effect contributed more than the growth effect to N fixers’ successional decline. Canopy and understory N fixers experienced these demographic disadvantages, indicating that factors in addition to light limitation likely contribute to N fixers’ successional decline. We show that the rarity and successional decline of N-fixing trees in temperate forests is due more to their survival disadvantage than their growth disadvantage, and a recruitment disadvantage might also play a large role.

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<![CDATA[Tree Circumference Dynamics in Four Forests Characterized Using Automated Dendrometer Bands]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9dbab0ee8fa60b67afb

Stem diameter is one of the most commonly measured attributes of trees, forming the foundation of forest censuses and monitoring. Changes in tree stem circumference include both irreversible woody stem growth and reversible circumference changes related to water status, yet these fine-scale dynamics are rarely leveraged to understand forest ecophysiology and typically ignored in plot- or stand-scale estimates of tree growth and forest productivity. Here, we deployed automated dendrometer bands on 12–40 trees at four different forested sites—two temperate broadleaf deciduous, one temperate conifer, and one tropical broadleaf semi-deciduous—to understand how tree circumference varies on time scales of hours to months, how these dynamics relate to environmental conditions, and whether the structure of these variations might introduce substantive error into estimates of woody growth. Diurnal stem circumference dynamics measured over the bark commonly—but not consistently—exhibited daytime shrinkage attributable to transpiration-driven changes in stem water storage. The amplitude of this shrinkage was significantly correlated with climatic variables (daily temperature range, vapor pressure deficit, and radiation), sap flow and evapotranspiration. Diurnal variations were typically <0.5 mm circumference in amplitude and unlikely to be of concern to most studies of tree growth. Over time scales of multiple days, the bands captured circumference increases in response to rain events, likely driven by combinations of increased stem water storage and bark hydration. Particularly at the tropical site, these rain responses could be quite substantial, ranging up to 1.5 mm circumference expansion within 48 hours following a rain event. We conclude that over-bark measurements of stem circumference change sometimes correlate with but have limited potential for directly estimating daily transpiration, but that they can be valuable on time scales of days to weeks for characterizing changes in stem growth and hydration.

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<![CDATA[Influence of Anthropogenic Disturbances on Stand Structural Complexity in Andean Temperate Forests: Implications for Managing Key Habitat for Biodiversity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dac0ab0ee8fa60bb0870

Forest attributes and their abundances define the stand structural complexity available as habitat for faunal biodiversity; however, intensive anthropogenic disturbances have the potential to degrade and simplify forest stands. In this paper we develop an index of stand structural complexity and show how anthropogenic disturbances, namely fire, logging, livestock, and their combined presence, affect stand structural complexity in a southern Global Biodiversity Hotspot. From 2011 to 2013, we measured forest structural attributes as well as the presence of anthropogenic disturbances in 505 plots in the Andean zone of the La Araucanía Region, Chile. In each plot, understory density, coarse woody debris, number of snags, tree diameter at breast height, and litter depth were measured, along with signs of the presence of anthropogenic disturbances. Ninety-five percent of the plots showed signs of anthropogenic disturbance (N = 475), with the combined presence of fire, logging, and livestock being the most common disturbance (N = 222; 44% of plots). The lowest values for the index were measured in plots combining fire, logging, and livestock. Undisturbed plots and plots with the presence of relatively old fires (> 70 years) showed the highest values for the index of stand structural complexity. Our results suggest that secondary forests < 70-year post-fire event, with the presence of habitat legacies (e.g. snags and CWD), can reach a structural complexity as high as undisturbed plots. Temperate forests should be managed to retain structural attributes, including understory density (7.2 ± 2.5 # contacts), volume of CWD (22.4 ± 25.8 m3/ha), snag density (94.4 ± 71.0 stems/ha), stand basal area (61.2 ± 31.4 m2/ha), and litter depth (7.5 ± 2.7 cm). Achieving these values will increase forest structural complexity, likely benefiting a range of faunal species in South American temperate forests.

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<![CDATA[Response of spatial vegetation distribution in China to climate changes since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc4f6

Analyzing how climate change affects vegetation distribution is one of the central issues of global change ecology as this has important implications for the carbon budget of terrestrial vegetation. Mapping vegetation distribution under historical climate scenarios is essential for understanding the response of vegetation distribution to future climatic changes. The reconstructions of palaeovegetation based on pollen data provide a useful method to understand the relationship between climate and vegetation distribution. However, this method is limited in time and space. Here, using species distribution model (SDM) approaches, we explored the climatic determinants of contemporary vegetation distribution and reconstructed the distribution of Chinese vegetation during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 18,000 14C yr BP) and Middle-Holocene (MH, 6000 14C yr BP). The dynamics of vegetation distribution since the LGM reconstructed by SDMs were largely consistent with those based on pollen data, suggesting that the SDM approach is a useful tool for studying historical vegetation dynamics and its response to climate change across time and space. Comparison between the modeled contemporary potential natural vegetation distribution and the observed contemporary distribution suggests that temperate deciduous forests, subtropical evergreen broadleaf forests, temperate deciduous shrublands and temperate steppe have low range fillings and are strongly influenced by human activities. In general, the Tibetan Plateau, North and Northeast China, and the areas near the 30°N in Central and Southeast China appeared to have experienced the highest turnover in vegetation due to climate change from the LGM to the present.

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<![CDATA[Mechanism Underlying the Spatial Pattern Formation of Dominant Tree Species in a Natural Secondary Forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da29ab0ee8fa60b81cb1

Studying the spatial pattern of plant species may provide significant insights into processes and mechanisms that maintain stand stability. To better understand the dynamics of naturally regenerated secondary forests, univariate and bivariate Ripley’s L(r) functions were employed to evaluate intra-/interspecific relationships of four dominant tree species (Populus davidiana, Betula platyphylla, Larix gmelinii and Acer mono) and to distinguish the underlying mechanism of spatial distribution. The results showed that the distribution of soil, water and nutrients was not fragmented but presented clear gradients. An overall aggregated distribution existed at most distances. No correlation was found between the spatial pattern of soil conditions and that of trees. Both positive and negative intra- and interspecific relationships were found between different DBH classes at various distances. Large trees did not show systematic inhibition of the saplings. By contrast, the inhibition intensified as the height differences increased between the compared pairs. Except for Larix, universal inhibition of saplings by upper layer trees occurred among other species, and this reflected the vertical competition for light. Therefore, we believe that competition for light rather than soil nutrients underlies the mechanism driving the formation of stand spatial pattern in the rocky mountainous areas examined.

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<![CDATA[Influence of Litter Diversity on Dissolved Organic Matter Release and Soil Carbon Formation in a Mixed Beech Forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da92ab0ee8fa60ba0954

We investigated the effect of leaf litter on below ground carbon export and soil carbon formation in order to understand how litter diversity affects carbon cycling in forest ecosystems. 13C labeled and unlabeled leaf litter of beech (Fagus sylvatica) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior), characterized by low and high decomposability, were used in a litter exchange experiment in the Hainich National Park (Thuringia, Germany). Litter was added in pure and mixed treatments with either beech or ash labeled with 13C. We collected soil water in 5 cm mineral soil depth below each treatment biweekly and determined dissolved organic carbon (DOC), δ13C values and anion contents. In addition, we measured carbon concentrations and δ13C values in the organic and mineral soil (collected in 1 cm increments) up to 5 cm soil depth at the end of the experiment. Litter-derived C contributes less than 1% to dissolved organic matter (DOM) collected in 5 cm mineral soil depth. Better decomposable ash litter released significantly more (0.50±0.17%) litter carbon than beech litter (0.17±0.07%). All soil layers held in total around 30% of litter-derived carbon, indicating the large retention potential of litter-derived C in the top soil. Interestingly, in mixed (ash and beech litter) treatments we did not find a higher contribution of better decomposable ash-derived carbon in DOM, O horizon or mineral soil. This suggest that the known selective decomposition of better decomposable litter by soil fauna has no or only minor effects on the release and formation of litter-derived DOM and soil organic matter. Overall our experiment showed that 1) litter-derived carbon is of low importance for dissolved organic carbon release and 2) litter of higher decomposability is faster decomposed, but litter diversity does not influence the carbon flow.

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<![CDATA[Ecological Importance of Small-Diameter Trees to the Structure, Diversity and Biomass of a Tropical Evergreen Forest at Rabi, Gabon]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da37ab0ee8fa60b869f0

Tropical forests have long been recognized for their biodiversity and ecosystem services. Despite their importance, tropical forests, and particularly those of central Africa, remain understudied. Until recently, most forest inventories in Central Africa have focused on trees ≥10 cm in diameter, even though several studies have shown that small-diameter tree population may be important to demographic rates and nutrient cycling. To determine the ecological importance of small-diameter trees in central African forests, we used data from a 25-ha permanent plot that we established in the rainforest of Gabon to study the diversity and dynamics of these forests. Within the plot, we censused 175,830 trees ≥1 cm dbh from 54 families, 192 genera, and 345 species. Average tree density was 7,026 trees/ha, basal area 31.64 m2/ha, and above-ground biomass 369.40 Mg/ha. Fabaceae, Ebenaceae and Euphorbiaceae were the most important families by basal area, density and above-ground biomass. Small-diameter trees (1 cm ≥ dbh <10 cm) comprised 93.7% of the total tree population, 16.5% of basal area, and 4.8% of the above-ground biomass. They also had diversity 18% higher at family level, 34% higher at genus level, and 42% higher at species level than trees ≥10 cm dbh. Although the relative contribution of small-diameter trees to biomass was comparable to other forests globally, their contribution to forest density, and diversity was disproportionately higher. The high levels of diversity within small-diameter classes may give these forests high levels of structural resilience to anthropogenic/natural disturbance and a changing climate.

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<![CDATA[Goldilocks and the Raster Grid: Selecting Scale when Evaluating Conservation Programs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dac3ab0ee8fa60bb1502

Access to high quality spatial data raises fundamental questions about how to select the appropriate scale and unit of analysis. Studies that evaluate the impact of conservation programs have used multiple scales and areal units: from 5x5 km grids; to 30m pixels; to irregular units based on land uses or political boundaries. These choices affect the estimate of program impact. The bias associated with scale and unit selection is a part of a well-known dilemma called the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP). We introduce this dilemma to the literature on impact evaluation and then explore the tradeoffs made when choosing different areal units. To illustrate the consequences of the MAUP, we begin by examining the effect of scale selection when evaluating a protected area in Mexico using real data. We then develop a Monte Carlo experiment that simulates a conservation intervention. We find that estimates of treatment effects and variable coefficients are only accurate under restrictive circumstances. Under more realistic conditions, we find biased estimates associated with scale choices that are both too large or too small relative to the data generating process or decision unit. In our context, the MAUP may reflect an errors in variables problem, where imprecise measures of the independent variables will bias the coefficient estimates toward zero. This problem may be pronounced at small scales of analysis. Aggregation may reduce this bias for continuous variables, but aggregation exacerbates bias when using a discrete measure of treatment. While we do not find a solution to these issues, even though treatment effects are generally underestimated. We conclude with suggestions on how researchers might navigate their choice of scale and aerial unit when evaluating conservation policies.

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