Patterns of tree diameter distributions in managed and unmanaged Abies alba Mill. and Fagus sylvatica L. forest patches
Publication date: 1 March 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 435
Author(s): Rafał Podlaski, Tomasz Sobala, Maciej Kocurek
Temperate forests with shade-tolerant canopy tree species can develop vertical structures of varying complexity. Forests with Abies alba Mill. and Fagus sylvatica L. can be composed of one-, two-, and multi-storied patches and selection patches. A dominant view in forest ecology is that unmanaged forests tend to have greater structural heterogeneity than managed stands. Structural integrity, however, may differ among forest developmental stages. The main objective of this study was to compare the tree diameter complexity in managed and unmanaged patches during the early developmental stage.
Data were collected between 2016 and 2018 in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains in Central Europe. The investigated tree communities were dominated by A. alba and F. sylvatica. Sample plots representing the growing-up developmental stage were randomly selected; of these, 30 plots were in managed stands, and 30 plots were in unmanaged forests. The diameter at breast height (DBH) distribution patterns were determined using hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), clustering indices, and finite mixture models.
Three main DBH distribution patterns were identified for the managed stands (K-A, K-B, and K-C). These patterns consisted of three or two sub-populations. The patterns represented structurally diversified patches composed of trees of all ages with multi-, three- or two-layered canopies and with intensive natural processes of regeneration. Two main DBH distribution patterns were identified for the unmanaged forests (S-A, and S-B). These patterns consisted of two clearly separated sub-populations. They are typical in patches with two-layered canopies, and the trees from the upper layer had a large share (40–60%). The distinguished DBH distribution patterns indicated there was greater tree size diversity in the managed stands than in the unmanaged forests. When comparing managed versus unmanaged patches, it is important to consider the developmental stage.
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