Stand dieback and collapse in a temperate forest and its impact on forest structure and biodiversity

Authors: Martin, P.A., Newton, A.C., Cantarello, E. and Evans, P.

Journal: Forest Ecology and Management

Volume: 358

Pages: 130-138

ISSN: 0378-1127

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.08.033

Abstract:

Concern is increasing about large-scale dieback that is occurring in many forest ecosystems. However, understanding of the processes of dieback and its potential impacts is limited, partly owing to the lack of long-term monitoring data for forest stands in which dieback has occurred. Here we present monitoring data collected over 50. years along two transects in a temperate forest ecosystem, in which the canopy dominant beech (. Fagus sylvatica L.) has demonstrated significant dieback. Our results show that basal area in the forest has declined by 33%, and juvenile tree densities have also been reduced by approximately 70%. Growing season temperatures have steadily increased and there have been a number of droughts causing climatic water deficits in recent decades, particularly in 1995. We hypothesise that these droughts may have interacted with novel pathogenic fungi to cause mortality of large trees. Curvilinear responses to BA loss were observed in tree community change, ground flora species richness, and percentage cover of grass, providing evidence of thresholds associated with stand dieback. Evidence also suggested that BA failed to recover once it declined. Critical values of basal area for a change in ground flora species richness and grass cover were around 40% decline from initial values. While these changes are dramatic, they cannot be considered a regime shift as the pressures that may have contributed to the ecosystem transition, drought, pathogenic fungi and overgrazing, are on-going. While managers might consider accepting forest dieback as part of an adaptive response of the system to novel environmental conditions, this would likely be associated with significant change in biodiversity and ecosystem service provision.

Source: Scopus

Stand dieback and collapse in a temperate forest and its impact on forest structure and biodiversity

Authors: Martin, P.A., Newton, A.C., Cantarello, E. and Evans, P.

Journal: FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT

Volume: 358

Pages: 130-138

eISSN: 1872-7042

ISSN: 0378-1127

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.08.033

Source: Web of Science (Lite)