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Long-term succession in a Danish temperate deciduous forest

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Forest successional trajectories covering the last 2000 yr from a mixed deciduous forest in Denmark show a gradual shift in dominance from Tilia cordata to Fagus sylvatica and a recent increase in total forest basal area since direct management ceased in 1948. The successions are reconstructed by combining a fifty-year record of direct tree observations with local pollen diagrams from Draved Forest, Denmark. Five of the seven successions record a heathland phase of Viking Age dating from 830 AD. The anthropogenic influence is considerable throughout the period of study even though Draved contains some of the most pristine forest stands in Denmark. Anthropogenic influence including felling masks the underlying natural dynamics, with the least disturbed sites showing the smallest compositional change. Some effects of former management, such as loss of Tilia cordata dominance, are irreversible. Artificial disturbance, particularly drainage, has accelerated and amplified the shift towards Fagus dominance that would have occurred on a smaller scale and at a slower rate in the absence of human intervention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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