Environmental drivers of the forest regeneration in temperate mixed forests
Publication date: 15 February 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 433
Author(s): Flóra Tinya, Sára Márialigeti, András Bidló, Péter Ódor
As modern silviculture in natural forests is based on natural regeneration, finding the most important drivers of regeneration is crucial for forestry as well as conservation. We explored the relationship between numerous environmental and land use history variables and the species richness, cover and composition of the regeneration layer, and also the cover of the dominant species of the regeneration (sessile oak, hornbeam and beech) in coniferous-deciduous mixed forests. We identified the key factors which forest management can influence to support the regeneration of mixedwoods.
Thirty-four stands were sampled, representing different tree species combinations and stand structures. We used redundancy analysis to explore the effects of the explanatory variables on the regeneration’s species composition, and general linear modelling to examine their effects on its species richness and cover.
The most important drivers of species composition were tree species richness, the amount of relative diffuse light, the proportion of beech in the overstory, and the heterogeneity of the diameter of trees. The cover of the regeneration layer was positively related to the density of large trees and to the amount of relative diffuse light. Its species richness was most strongly influenced by light and tree species richness. For the cover of a particular species in the regeneration, the proportion of the conspecific species in the overstory was determinant for every species, but other, various drivers also played a role in the case of the different species.
According to our results, the community variables of the regeneration are mainly driven by the characteristics of the current forest stands, thus they are strongly influenced by management. Compositional heterogeneity of the overstory, various tree size distribution and the presence of large trees play key roles in the maintenance of a heterogeneous regeneration layer. The shelterwood forestry system is partially capable of providing these conditions, but continuous cover forestry is much more suitable to achieve them. Besides the stand structural variables, among the drivers of the individual species, various variables of forest site, landscape and land use history also occurred. Therefore, we conclude that maintaining the landscape-scale heterogeneity of forest types and management systems may promote the coexistence of various species in the region.
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