The ecology of tree regeneration in mature and old forests: combined knowledge for sustainable forest management
Source: Journal of Forest Research, Volume 16, Number 3, June 2011 , pp. 184-193(10)
Abstract:We focused our attention on quantifying the factor complex of forest regeneration in 423 mature and old stands with contrasting environmental conditions. We recorded the microhabitat selection of tree recruits, the frequency of tree seedlings, and evaluated the drivers of sapling abundance and diversity. The majority of forest regeneration was established on undisturbed forest floor. Dead wood was a frequent substrate in spruce-(co)dominated forests. Seedling frequency within a stand was related to the site-type specific productivity gradient of stands—pine seedlings were common in low-productivity and spruce in high-productivity boreal forests. Seedlings of temperate broad-leaved trees dominated in productive boreonemoral forests, except for oak, which showed a uniform distribution of abundance in all forest site-types. Sapling abundance was dictated by forest site-type, and facilitated by stand diversity, variability in stand closure, lying dead wood, abundant moss, and a thick organic layer. Only in boreal forests was sapling abundance suppressed by the abundant spruce and younger trees. Upon considering the relationship between sapling abundance and species richness, sapling diversity was dependent on forest site-type, suppressed by stand density and dead wood (old gap) abundance, and facilitated by stand diversity. In addition, boreonemoral stands, competition from herbs, and facilitation by mosses occurred. The observed pattern of tree recruitment points to the importance of top-down effects of the overstory, competing or facilitating interactions with forest floor vegetation, and availability of regeneration microhabitats, which in complex make their ecology comparable with forest herbs. Natural forest regeneration can be enhanced if silvicultural methods support mixed stands and enhance field layer diversity. Oak can provide the universal tree species to improve stand structure over a wide range of habitats.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Lai 40, Tartu, 51005, Estonia, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2: Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Lai 40, Tartu, 51005, Estonia
Publication date: 2011-06-01