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... Forest disturbances have been an integral part of European forests for centuries, but they are not a threat for forests. Rather, they promote heterogeneity at multiple spatial scales, favoring ecological resilience [8]. Natural disturbances can be considered the main drivers of changes in environmental conditions [8,9]. ...
... Rather, they promote heterogeneity at multiple spatial scales, favoring ecological resilience [8]. Natural disturbances can be considered the main drivers of changes in environmental conditions [8,9]. For instance, in a forest the death of a single ...
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The present study was focused on how cardinal directions inside gaps of different sizes (small, 200 m2; medium, 400 m2; and large, 600 m2) can affect soil characteristics and tree regeneration. Additionally, the effects of gap size on the growth dynamics of trees outside the gaps were evaluated. The study was carried out in a European beech stand located in Aspromonte National Park (Southern Apennines, Calabria, Italy). Microclimatic variables, physical, chemical, and biochemical soil properties, natural regeneration density, and growth trees outside the gaps density of natural regeneration were assessed. This study provided evidence for an important effect of cardinal points on micro-environmental parameter variability, nutrient cycle, physic-chemical soil properties, water availability, and biological processes such as trees growth and regeneration. The European beech natural regeneration was most abundant in the south part of the gaps. Thus, we can state that cardinal points affect the trees natural regeneration in a species-specific manner. The new microclimatic conditions due to the gap opening had positive effects on the tree growth located along the gap edge, especially in the trees sampled on the edges of the medium gaps. On the contrary, the trees located in the forest recorded a productivity coherent with the period prior the gap opening. In medium-sized gaps, the combination and interaction of microclimatic and soil parameters (humification and mineralization process and microbial activity) created the best conditions for beech natural regeneration and favored an increase in the productivity of the trees at the edge of the gaps.
... In European forests, where Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karsten) is the dominant tree species, the bark beetle (Ips typographus) is a keystone species [13,14]. The critical role of the bark beetle is usually associated with wind turbulent natural disturbances, which are essential landscape drivers in the natural and semi-natural Norway spruce-dominated mountain forests of Europe [15,16]. Natural wind disturbances in mountain coniferous forests strongly affect all the main components of forest and landscape dynamics: species diversity, the structure of forest stands, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and other ecosystem services [17]. ...
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Norway spruce dominates mountain forests in Europe. Natural variations in the mountainous coniferous forests are strongly influenced by all the main components of forest and landscape dynamics: species diversity, the structure of forest stands, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and other ecosystem services. This paper deals with an empirical windthrow risk model based on the integration of logistic regression into GIS to assess forest vulnerability to wind-disturbance in the mountain spruce forests of Šumava National Park (Czech Republic). It is an area where forest management has been the focus of international discussions by conservationists, forest managers, and stakeholders. The authors developed the empirical windthrow risk model, which involves designing an optimized data structure containing dependent and independent variables entering logistic regression. The results from the model, visualized in the form of map outputs, outline the probability of risk to forest stands from wind in the examined territory of the national park. Such an application of the empirical windthrow risk model could be used as a decision support tool for the mountain spruce forests in a study area. Future development of these models could be useful for other protected European mountain forests dominated by Norway spruce.
... This increase in pollen influx likely reflects increased in-lake focusing of pollen to the lake center assisted by wind currents from a more open landscape (see Figure 5 for percent openness), rather than increased pollen rain from spruce plantations found at low-elevations. Openings within highelevation forests are generally attributed to human clearance, fire, windthrow, or bark beetle outbreaks (Ips typographus) which are key disturbance drivers influencing Norway spruce forest dynamics (Holeksa and Cybulski, 2001;Fischer et al., 2002;Holeksa et al., 2007;Svoboda et al., 2012Svoboda et al., , 2014Čada et al., 2016;Janda et al., 2017;Kulakowski, 2017). During the 1990s, an I. typographus bark beetle outbreak occurred in the region creating gaps (i.e., openings) in the canopy. ...
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In 1927, the first pollen diagram was published from the Bohemian/Bavarian Forest region of Central Europe, providing one of the first qualitative views of the long-term vegetation development in the region. Since then significant methodological advances in quantitative approaches such as pollen influx and pollen-based vegetation models (e.g., Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm, LRA) have contributed to enhance our understanding of temporal and spatial ecology. These types of quantitative reconstructions are fundamental for conservation and restoration ecology because they provide long-term perspectives on ecosystem functioning. In the Bohemian/Bavarian Forests, forest managers have a goal to restore the original forest composition at mid-elevation forests, yet they rely on natural potential vegetation maps that do not take into account long-term vegetation dynamics. Here we reconstruct the Holocene history of forest composition and discuss the implications the LRA has for regional forest management and conservation. Two newly analyzed pollen records from Prášilské jezero and Rachelsee were compared to 10 regional peat bogs/mires and two other regional lakes to reconstruct total land-cover abundance at both the regional-and local-scales. The results demonstrate that spruce has been the dominant canopy cover across the region for the past 9,000 years at both high-(>900 m) and mid-elevations (>700-900 m). At the regional-scale inferred from lake records, spruce has comprised an average of ∼50% of the total forest canopy; whereas at the more local-scale at mid-elevations, spruce formed ∼59%. Beech established ∼6,000 cal. years BP while fir established later around 5,500 cal. years BP. Beech and fir growing at mid-elevations reached a maximum land-cover abundance of 24% and 13% roughly 1,000 years ago. Over the past 500 years spruce has comprised ∼47% land-cover, while beech and fir comprised ∼8% and <5% at mid-elevations. This approach argues for the "natural" development of spruce and fir locally in zones where the paleoecology indicates the Carter et al. Quantitative Palynology and Conservation Management persistence of these species for millennia. Contrasting local and regional reconstructions of forest canopy cover points to a patchwork mosaic with local variability in the dominant taxa. Incorporation of paleoecological data in dialogues about biodiversity and ecosystem management is an approach that has wider utility.
... The, currently vague, understanding of the interdependence between disturbances and tree regeneration of natural Norway spruce forests in central Europe (Winter et al. 2015;Kulakowski et al. 2017b) can be improved by an analysis of the historical variability of disturbances and tree regeneration in natural forests (Bergeron and Harvey 1997;Swetnam et al. 1999;Keane et al. 2009). In Europe, it is advantageous that historical records date back farther and are much more exact than for many other parts of the world (Glaser 2013;McGrath et al. 2015;Brázdil et al. 2017). ...
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European natural mountain Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests are currently subject to extensive disturbances. An improved understanding of the self-regulated regenerative capacity of this forest type is therefore needed. We used the last remnant of natural mountain Norway spruce forests in central northwestern Europe (BNF Brocken natural forest), to analyze (1) the diversity of structure and age distribution of the tree population and (2) the effect of disturbances on self-regulated tree regeneration over the last 264 years. To this end, we combined an assessment of stand structure with dendrochronological investigations and a review of disturbance history. We hypothesized that BNF exhibits a high diversity of tree ages and dimensions and that recruitment and survival of tree regeneration were largely independent from disturbances. BNF showed a high structural and age diversity. Disturbances exhibited no regular temporal pattern. Their effect on tree regeneration was rather complex and changed with observation period. Impeding and facilitating effects of past disturbances on recruitment were significant from 1736 to 1910. From 1911 until 2000, recruitment decoupled from preceding disturbances. Subsequent disturbances facilitated survival of established trees from 1736 to 1820, while afterward no significant influence could be proved. Our study showed that in the course of self-regulated development the tree population of BNF has gradually acquired, or maintained, a diverse structure. Disturbances served as an important driver of diversification. We concluded that increasing deadwood availability and limiting browsing are the key to securing immediate regeneration.
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Mountain forests are important for their production and protection values. They serve as a homes of important timber, wood and non-wood products in several countries and most importantly they serve in storing water and preventing erosion. They are also hotspots of biodiversity including common indigenous species that are used for different purposes in the society which are categorized as timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Many of mountain forests are playing the role of carbon sinks to mitigate climate change. However, most of the world\'s mountain communities are strongly influenced by surrounding lowland and urban areas with regard to timber extraction, expansion of agricultural land to the fertile soils of the forest ecosystem with the addition of forest fire incidences. In a changing climate, human induced disturbances and lack of awareness are the major threats for the mountain ecosystems. Maintenance and new approaches for the management of the mountain ecosystems with the special attention and proper actions to save and maintain the productive, protective, socio cultural roles of mountain forests may be essential for maximum stability and integrity for the sustainability of the mountain forest ecosystems.
Article
Full-text available
Mountain forests are important for their production and protection values. They serve as a homes of important timber, wood and non-wood products in several countries and most importantly they serve in storing water and preventing erosion. They are also hotspots of biodiversity including common indigenous species that are used for different purposes in the society which are categorized as timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Many of mountain forests are playing the role of carbon sinks to mitigate climate change. However, most of the world\'s mountain communities are strongly influenced by surrounding lowland and urban areas with regard to timber extraction, expansion of agricultural land to the fertile soils of the forest ecosystem with the addition of forest fire incidences. In a changing climate, human induced disturbances and lack of awareness are the major threats for the mountain ecosystems. Maintenance and new approaches for the management of the mountain ecosystems with the special attention and proper actions to save and maintain the productive, protective, socio cultural roles of mountain forests may be essential for maximum stability and integrity for the sustainability of the mountain forest ecosystems
Article
Disturbances are among the most important processes that shape forest dynamics and landscapes. However the historic ranges of variability (HRV) of many coniferous forests in Europe and specifically in the mountains on the Balkan Peninsula are not well understood. We present the first overview of available data on disturbance events in coniferous forests in the high mountains in southwestern Bulgaria. Our study included data from historical publications, documents and archives, newer documentary data obtained through interviews with foresters and verified using satellite images, published studies and new tree-ring data. We documented at least 188 abiotic disturbance events in the Bulgarian mountains including fires (39%), windthrows (31%) and avalanches (20%) and fewer disturbances caused by snow and ice.
Article
Mountain forest ecosystems in central Europe are a product of millennia of land use and climate change, and this historical legacy shapes their vulnerability to projected climate change and related disturbance regimes (e.g. fire, wind throw, insect outbreaks). The transitional and highly dynamic state of present-day forests raises questions about the use of modern ecological observations and modeling approaches to predict their response to future climate change. We draw on records from the different subregions (northern, central and southern Alps and their forelands) in and around the Swiss Alps, which has one of the longest evidence of human land-use in Europe, to illustrate the importance of paleoecological information for guiding forest management and conservation strategies. The records suggest that past land use had different impacts on the abundance and distribution of woody species, depending on their ecology and economic value. Some taxas were disadvantaged by intensified burning and browsing (e.g. Abies alba, Ulmus, Tilia, Fraxinus, Pinus cembra and the evergreen Ilex aquifolium and Hedera helix); others were selected for food and fiber (e.g. Castanea sativa, Juglans regia) or increased in abundance as consequence of their utility (charcoal, acorns, litter and other products) or resistance to disturbance (e.g. Picea abies, Fagus sylvatica, Pinus sylvestris, and deciduous Quercus). Another group of trees increased in distribution as an indirect result of human-caused disturbance (e.g. Betula, Alnus viridis, Juniperus, and Pinus mugo). Knowledge of past species distribution, abundance and responses under a wide range of climate, land use and disturbance conditions is critical for setting silvicultural priorities to maintain healthy forests in the future.
Article
In order to gauge ongoing and future changes to disturbance regimes, it is necessary to establish a solid baseline of historic disturbance patterns against which to evaluate these changes. Further, understanding how forest structure and composition respond to variation in past disturbances may provide insight into future resilience to climate-driven alterations of disturbance regimes.
Article
Mountain forests are among the most important ecosystems in Europe as they support numerous ecological, hydrological, climatic, social, and economic functions. They are unique relatively natural ecosystems consisting of long-lived species in an otherwise densely populated human landscape. Despite this, centuries of intensive forest management in many of these forests have eclipsed evidence of natural processes, especially the role of disturbances in long-term forest dynamics. Recent trends of land abandonment and establishment of protected forests have coincided with a growing interest in managing forests in more natural states. At the same time, the importance of past disturbances highlighted in an emerging body of literature, and recent increasing disturbances due to climate change are challenging long-held views of dynamics in these ecosystems. Here, we synthesize aspects of this Special Issue on the ecology of mountain forest ecosystems in Europe in the context of broader discussions in the field, to present a new perspective on these ecosystems and their natural disturbance regimes. Most mountain forests in Europe, for which long-term data are available, show a strong and long-term effect of not only human land use but also of natural disturbances that vary by orders of magnitude in size and frequency. Although these disturbances may kill many trees, the forests themselves have not been threatened. The relative importance of natural disturbances, land use, and climate change for ecosystem dynamics varies across space and time. Across the continent, changing climate and land use are altering forest cover, forest structure, tree demography, and natural disturbances, including fires, insect outbreaks, avalanches, and wind disturbances. Projected continued increases in forest area and biomass along with continued warming are likely to further promote forest disturbances. Episodic disturbances may foster ecosystem adaptation to the effects of ongoing and future climatic change. Increasing disturbances, along with trends of less intense land use, will promote further increases in coarse woody debris, with cascading positive effects on biodiversity, edaphic conditions, biogeochemical cycles, and increased heterogeneity across a range of spatial scales. Together, this may translate to disturbance-mediated resilience of forest landscapes and increased biodiversity, as long as climate and disturbance regimes remain within the tolerance of relevant species. Understanding ecological variability, even imperfectly, is integral to anticipating vulnerabilities and promoting ecological resilience, especially under growing uncertainty. Allowing some forests to be shaped by natural processes may be congruent with multiple goals of forest management, even in densely settled and developed countries.
Article
Quantitative descriptions of natural disturbance regimes are lacking for temperate forest regions in Europe, primarily because a long history of intensive land-use has been the overriding driver of forest structure and composition across the region. The following contribution is the first attempt to comprehensively describe the natural disturbance regime of the dominant forest communities in the Dinaric Mountain range, with an emphasis on the range of natural variability of regime components for the main disturbance agents. Compared to other forest regions in Europe, the mountain range has a history of less intensive forest exploitation and provides a suitable record of natural disturbance processes. Our synthesis is based on multiple types of evidence, including meteorological information, historical documentation, evidence from old-growth remnants, and salvage logging data from National forest inventories. Taken together, the results show that no single disturbance agent dominates the regime in the dominant forest types (i.e. beech and mixed beech-fir forests), and any given agent exhibits remarkable variation in terms of severity and spatial extent both within and among individual disturbance events. Thunderstorm winds cause the most severe damage (i.e. near stand replacement), but blowdown patches are typically limited to stand-scales (e.g. 10s of ha). Ice storms and heavy snow typically cause intermediate severity damage and affect much larger areas (e.g. 100s of km2). A notable exception was the 2014 ice storm, which was nearly an order of magnitude larger and more severe than any other event recorded in the synthesis. Severe and prolonged periods of drought have occurred several times over the past century, and along with secondary insect damage (e.g. bark beetles), have caused episodes of forest decline. Overall, our synthesis indicates that on top of the background of relatively continuous gap dynamics, stand-scale intermediate severity events are an important part of the regime; these events likely have rotation periods that are less than the lifespan of a tree cohort (e.g. several centuries) and create canopy openings large enough to alter successional trajectories.
Article
Severe natural disturbances are common in many forest ecosystems, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. Attempts to minimize their effects through forest management include salvage logging. In the Bohemian Forest, one of Central Europe’s largest continuous forests, windstorms and bark beetle outbreaks have affected stands of Norway Spruce for centuries. Over the past decades, these natural disturbances and their management in the Bavarian Forest National Park and the adjacent Šumava National Park in the central part of the Bohemian Forest have been scientifically studied. Owing to a benign-neglect strategy, both windstorms and bark beetle outbreaks have increased stand structural heterogeneity, the amount of dead wood and light availability, which contribute to increased populations of nearly-extinct forest specialists. However, the response of a particular taxonomic group or species strongly depends on its relationship to specific legacies that persist after disturbances. Stand climate but not dead wood appears to greatly influence the diversity of epigeal bryophytes, whereas both factors determine the diversity of epixylic bryophytes. Both the amount and heterogeneity of dead wood seems to be more important than stand climate in determining assemblages of wood-inhabiting fungi and lichens. To reduce the population density of bark beetles in the management zones of both national parks, storm-felled spruces are salvage logged, which alters a variety of these legacies and natural successional pathways. Consequently, the numbers of species of wood-inhabiting fungi, saproxylic beetles and epixylic lichens are reduced. Natural levels of biodiversity in salvage-logged areas can be preserved by (1) preserving root plates of storm-felled trees with partly retained trunks; (2) avoiding soil disturbance by using cable yarding instead of harvesters; (3) retaining sun-exposed dry branches of storm-felled trees and snags of beetle-killed spruces; (4) avoiding logging damage of natural regeneration and of large trees that survive disturbances; and (5) bark scratching instead of debarking to avoid bark beetle outbreaks while maintaining biodiversity. Windstorms and bark beetle outbreaks could be utilized to restore intensely managed forests of Central Europe to their natural composition and structure. Furthermore, experimentally mimicked natural disturbances might help in gaining a mechanistic understanding of how natural disturbances affect biodiversity.
Article
Disturbances from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires have increased in Europe's forests throughout the 20(th) century (1). Climatic changes were identified as a main driver behind this increase (2), yet how the expected continuation of climate change will affect Europe's forest disturbance regime remains unresolved. Increasing disturbances could strongly impact the forest carbon budget (3,4), and are hypothesized to contribute to the recently observed carbon sink saturation in Europe's forests (5). Here we show that forest disturbance damage in Europe has continued to increase in the first decade of the 21(st) century. Based on an ensemble of climate change scenarios we find that damage from wind, bark beetles, and forest fires is likely to increase further in coming decades, and estimate the rate of increase to +0.91·10(6) m(3) of timber per year until 2030. We show that this intensification can offset the effect of management strategies aiming to increase the forest carbon sink, and calculate the disturbance-related reduction of the carbon storage potential in Europe's forests to be 503.4 Tg C in 2021-2030. Our results highlight the considerable carbon cycle feedbacks of changing disturbance regimes, and underline that future forest policy and management will require a stronger focus on disturbance risk and resilience.
Article
This paper, based on a literature review, presents a quantitative overview of the role of natural disturbances in European forests from 1850 to 2000. Such an overview provides a basis for modelling the possible impacts of climate change and enables one to assess trends in disturbance regimes in different countries and/or periods. Over the period 1950–2000, an annual average of 35 million m3 wood was damaged by disturbances; there was much variation between years. Storms were responsible for 53% of the total damage, fire for 16%, snow for 3% and other abiotic causes for 5%. Biotic factors caused 16% of the damage, and half of this was caused by bark beetles. For 7% of the damage, no cause was given or there was a combination of causes. The 35 million m3 of damage is about 8.1% of the total fellings in Europe and about 0.15% of the total volume of growing stock. Over the period 1961–2000, the average annual area of forest fires was 213 000 ha, which is 0.15% of the total forest area in Europe. Most types of damage seem to be increasing. This is partly an artefact of the improved availability of information. The most likely explanations for an increase in damage from disturbances are changes in forest management and resulting changes in the condition of the forest. Forest area, average volume of growing stock and average stand age have increased considerably, making the forest more vulnerable and increasing the resources that can be damaged. Since forest resources are expected to continue to increase, it is likely that damage from disturbances will also increase in future.
this issue. Facing future disturbances in European mountain forests: what can we learn from the past?
  • M Conedera
  • D Colombaroli
  • C Whitlock
  • W Tinner
Conedera, M., Colombaroli, D., Whitlock, C., Tinner, W., this issue. Facing future disturbances in European mountain forests: what can we learn from the past? For. Ecol. Manage.
this issue. The historical disturbance regime of mountain Norway spruce forests in the Western Carpathians and its influence on current forest structure and composition
  • P Janda
  • R Bače
  • V Trotsiuk
  • M Mikoláš
  • T Nagel
  • R Seidel
  • H Mrhalová
  • R C Morrisey
  • L Matějů
  • J Lábusová
  • S Kucbel
  • P Jaloviar
  • J Vysoký
  • M Jasík
  • P Šamonil
  • M Seedre
  • V Michalová
  • Z Svoboda
Janda, P., Bače, R., Trotsiuk, V., Mikoláš, M., Nagel, T., Seidel, R., Mrhalová, H., Morrisey, R.C., Matějů, L., Lábusová, J., Kucbel, S., Jaloviar, P., Vysoký, J., Jasík, M., Šamonil, P., Seedre, M., Č ada, V., Michalová, Z., Svoboda, M., this issue. The historical disturbance regime of mountain Norway spruce forests in the Western Carpathians and its influence on current forest structure and composition. For. Ecol. Manage.
Abiotic disturbances in Bulgarian mountain coniferous forests -an overview
  • M Panayotov
  • G Gogushev
  • E Tsavkov
  • P Vassileva
  • N Tsvetanov
  • D Kulakowski
  • P Bebi
Panayotov, M., Gogushev, G., Tsavkov, E., Vassileva, P., Tsvetanov, N., Kulakowski, D., Bebi, P., this issue. Abiotic disturbances in Bulgarian mountain coniferous forests -an overview. For. Ecol. Manage.
Thinning and ecosystem dynamics of Central European mountain forests under climate change: a re-analysis of long-term thinning trials using simulation modeling
  • R Seidl
  • F Vigl
  • G Rössler
  • M Neumann
  • W Rammer
  • This Issue
Seidl, R., Vigl, F., Rössler, G., Neumann, M., Rammer, W., this issue. Thinning and ecosystem dynamics of Central European mountain forests under climate change: a re-analysis of long-term thinning trials using simulation modeling. For. Ecol. Manage.
Ecology of mountain forest ecosystems in the Italian Apennines
  • G Vacchiano
  • M Garbarino
  • E Lingua
  • R Motta
  • This Issue
Vacchiano, G., Garbarino, M., Lingua, E., Motta, R., this issue. Ecology of mountain forest ecosystems in the Italian Apennines. For. Ecol. Manage.