Legacy of pre-disturbance spatial pattern determines early structural diversity following severe disturbance in mountain spruce forests in Czech Republic

Bace, R and Svoboda, M and Janda, P and Morrissey, R C and Wild, J and Clear, J L and Cada, V and Donato, D C (2015) Legacy of pre-disturbance spatial pattern determines early structural diversity following severe disturbance in mountain spruce forests in Czech Republic. PLoS ONE. ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Background Severe canopy-removing disturbances are native to many temperate forests and radically alter stand structure, but biotic legacies (surviving elements or patterns) can lend continuity to ecosystem function after such events. Poorly understood is the degree to which the structural complexity of an old-growth forest carries over to the next stand. We asked how predisturbance spatial pattern acts as a legacy to influence post-disturbance stand structure, and how this legacy influences the structural diversity within the early-seral stand. Methods Two stem-mapped one-hectare forest plots in the Czech Republic experienced a severe bark beetle outbreak, thus providing before-and-after data on spatial patterns in live and dead trees, crown projections, down logs, and herb cover. Results Post-disturbance stands were dominated by an advanced regeneration layer present before the disturbance. Both major species, Norway spruce (Picea abies) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), were strongly self-aggregated and also clustered to former canopy trees, predisturbance snags, stumps and logs, suggesting positive overstory to understory neighbourhood effects. Thus, although the disturbance dramatically reduced the stand’s height profile with ~100% mortality of the canopy layer, the spatial structure of post-disturbance stands still closely reflected the pre-disturbance structure. The former upper tree layer influenced advanced regeneration through microsite and light limitation. Under formerly dense canopies, regeneration density was high but relatively homogeneous in height; while in former small gaps with greater herb cover, regeneration density was lower but with greater heterogeneity in heights.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Open Access article, published by PLOS, available under the Creative Commons Attribution License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Geography and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Jennifer Clear
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 08:24
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2017 08:24
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2033

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