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Special Issue "Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2017

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Christopher Gough

Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1000 W. Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia 23284, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: plant physiological and ecosystem ecology, disturbance ecology, ecological succession, carbon and nitrogen cycling, biogeochemistry, urban forestry, tree-soil interactions, global change biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forest structure and function change considerably over the course of ecological succession, with wide-ranging implications for biogeochemical cycling, biomass quantity and distribution, primary and ecosystem production, plant community and physical structure, plant and animal competition, and habitat quality and quantity. A rich and extensive body of literature offers a strong, evolving foundation for understanding ecosystem structural and functional changes over decade to century timescales, but, until recently, new advances were limited by a paucity of long-term ecological data for empirically examining, and challenging or improving theoretical and simulation models of forest successional dynamics. Today, however, several long-running, broadly distributed research sites and networks, and remote sensing platforms have amassed a decade or more of ecosystem structure and function data, offering unprecedented opportunities to use long-term datasets to advance theoretical, empirical, and model-based understanding of forest successional dynamics. For this Forests Special Issue, we invite manuscript submissions that aim to improve knowledge of ecosystem structural and/or functional change, of any kind, in natural or managed forests. We are particularly interested in contributions using high quality long-term datasets or space-for-time substitution (i.e., chronosequence) approaches to enhance understanding of decadal, or longer, forest structure-function change.  

Dr. Christopher Gough
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Forest succession
  • Structure-function
  • Ecosystem development
  • Community and ecosystem structure
  • Ecosystem function
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Primary production
  • Long-term ecological processes
  • Decade to century timescales

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Patterns of Early Postfire Succession of Alpine, Subalpine and Lichen-Woodland Vegetation: 21 Years of Monitoring from Permanent Plots
Forests 2017, 8(9), 346; doi:10.3390/f8090346
Received: 7 August 2017 / Revised: 5 September 2017 / Accepted: 8 September 2017 / Published: 15 September 2017
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Abstract
Field observations using chronosequences are helpful to study vegetation succession. This method allows to establish comparisons based on soil composition, stand structure, micro- and macrofossil remains from sites of different ages but on similar edaphic and topographic conditions. In the boreal forest, post-fire
[...] Read more.
Field observations using chronosequences are helpful to study vegetation succession. This method allows to establish comparisons based on soil composition, stand structure, micro- and macrofossil remains from sites of different ages but on similar edaphic and topographic conditions. In the boreal forest, post-fire succession through time is triggered by climate, disturbance history (insect epidemics, fire and logging), latitude and altitude. The main objective of this research is to identify the main patterns of early post-fire succession, including similarities and differences in vegetation composition and attributes, of three contrasted ecosystems distributed along an altitudinal gradient. To do so, we have monitored the successional development of the alpine, subalpine and boreal lichen-woodland sites during the first 21 years (1991 to 2011) of post-fire sequence in eastern Canada 1991 to 2011. Each site was characterized by a different functional group that became established following fire. A rapid resurgence of ericaceous shrubs and lichens was observed in the lichen woodland and subalpine sites. Bryophyte and lichen species were not an important component of vegetation communities during the earlier stages of post-fire succession. For all three sites monitored, lichens were the last functional group to establish in the chronosequences. Herbs and mosses characterized the post-fire succession in alpine areas, the latter functional group established late in the chronosequence to cover >25% of the site after 15 years. Post-fire chronosequences in the three contrasted environments indicate that plant succession is a repetitive process often involving similar resilient plant assemblages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Open AccessArticle Coordination and Determinants of Leaf Community Economics Spectrum for Canopy Trees and Shrubs in a Temperate Forest in Northeastern China
Forests 2017, 8(6), 202; doi:10.3390/f8060202
Received: 15 April 2017 / Revised: 27 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 June 2017 / Published: 9 June 2017
PDF Full-text (2148 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Upscaling the leaf economics spectrum (LES) from the species level to community level is an important step to understand how assemblages are constructed based on functional traits and how these coordinated traits for a community respond to the environmental gradients and climate change.
[...] Read more.
Upscaling the leaf economics spectrum (LES) from the species level to community level is an important step to understand how assemblages are constructed based on functional traits and how these coordinated traits for a community respond to the environmental gradients and climate change. In a 9-ha temperate forest dynamics plot located in northeastern China, we collected four LES traits and three other leaf traits from 28 tree species and 13 shrub species. We then related the LES traits at the community level to topographical and soil factors. We observed that the coordination of LES at the community level was stronger than at the species level. Soil nutrients were the primary drivers of distribution of leaf community economics spectrum with acquisition strategy communities in the resource-rich locations. We also observed that different environmental factors affected the distributions of leaf community economics spectrums for trees and shrubs. Our results provided novel evidence for the existence of leaf community economics spectrum in the continental monsoon climate zone. Both abiotic filtering and niche differentiation determined their distributions across different growth forms at the local spatial scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Analysis of a Haloxylon Ammodendron Plantation in an Oasis-Desert Ecotone in the Hexi Corridor, Northwestern China
Forests 2017, 8(6), 200; doi:10.3390/f8060200
Received: 31 March 2017 / Revised: 28 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 June 2017 / Published: 8 June 2017
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Abstract
Haloxylon ammodendron is a commonly used sand-fixing species in the desert area of northwestern China; it has been abundantly planted in areas where annual precipitation is about 120 mm in the Hexi Corridor since the 1970s. Spatial patterns and associations of an H.
[...] Read more.
Haloxylon ammodendron is a commonly used sand-fixing species in the desert area of northwestern China; it has been abundantly planted in areas where annual precipitation is about 120 mm in the Hexi Corridor since the 1970s. Spatial patterns and associations of an H. ammodendron plantation in five stages of community development were analyzed in an oasis-desert ecotone to gain insights into population dynamics over a course of succession. Five 0.3-ha (50 m × 60 m) permanent plots were established in each of five developmental stages; H. ammodendron was classified as seedlings, juvenile and mature trees, and all individuals were measured and stem-mapped. The univariate spatial analysis by the L-function and the bivariate L12-function were used to describe the spatial patterns of all trees and examine the spatial association among trees between different tree size-classes. Results showed that at scales >2 m, the spatial pattern of H. ammodendron shifted from initially clustered to random, and back to clustered; at scales <2 m, a transition from uniform to clustered was observed with stand age. In 5–10-year, 10–20-year and 20–30-year stages, competition between conspecifics may be the dominant factor which influenced plant survival. In 30–40-year and >40-year stages, interactions between conspecifics may be the dominant factor in conditions of tree-size-asymmetric competition, but abiotic stress may be more important in tree-size-symmetric competition. The H. ammodendron plantation experienced highest mortality at the 5–10-year stage as a result of fierce competition for soil water, while with respect to growth, it entered into a relatively stable stage, where the gaps generated due to mortality of adult trees and improved soil conditions provided opportunities for regeneration. In the >40-year stage, the regeneration experienced a decline under enhanced competition for water, and the plantation showed a clustered pattern at all scales due to water stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Heterogeneity of the Forest Canopy Scales with the Heterogeneity of an Understory Shrub Based on Fractal Analysis
Forests 2017, 8(5), 146; doi:10.3390/f8050146
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 21 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
Spatial heterogeneity of vegetation is an important landscape characteristic, but is difficult to assess due to scale-dependence. Here we examine how spatial patterns in the forest canopy affect those of understory plants, using the shrub Canada buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.) as
[...] Read more.
Spatial heterogeneity of vegetation is an important landscape characteristic, but is difficult to assess due to scale-dependence. Here we examine how spatial patterns in the forest canopy affect those of understory plants, using the shrub Canada buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.) as a focal species. Evergreen and deciduous forest canopy and buffaloberry shrub presence were measured with line-intercept sampling along ten 2-km transects in the Rocky Mountain foothills of west-central Alberta, Canada. Relationships between overstory canopy and understory buffaloberry presence were assessed for scales ranging from 2 m to 502 m. Fractal dimensions of both canopy and buffaloberry were estimated and then related using box-counting methods to evaluate spatial heterogeneity based on patch distribution and abundance. Effects of canopy presence on buffaloberry were scale-dependent, with shrub presence negatively related to evergreen canopy cover and positively related to deciduous cover. The effect of evergreen canopy was significant at a local scale between 2 m and 42 m, while that of deciduous canopy was significant at a meso-scale between 150 m and 358 m. Fractal analysis indicated that buffaloberry heterogeneity positively scaled with evergreen canopy heterogeneity, but was unrelated to that of deciduous canopy. This study demonstrates that evergreen canopy cover is a determinant of buffaloberry heterogeneity, highlighting the importance of spatial scale and canopy composition in understanding canopy-understory relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Patterns of Canopy Disturbance, Structure, and Species Composition in a Multi-Cohort Hardwood Stand
Forests 2017, 8(3), 93; doi:10.3390/f8030093
Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2772 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Multi-cohort stands are increasingly recognized and valued because of their biological functioning, biological diversity, and resistance and resiliency to perturbations. These forest ecosystems are epitomized by multiple age classes, and often contain multiple canopy layers, a range of tree size classes, and large
[...] Read more.
Multi-cohort stands are increasingly recognized and valued because of their biological functioning, biological diversity, and resistance and resiliency to perturbations. These forest ecosystems are epitomized by multiple age classes, and often contain multiple canopy layers, a range of tree size classes, and large amounts of woody debris. Disturbance history reconstructions in multi-cohort stands provide an understanding of the processes that create these systems. In this study, we documented structure and composition, and used dendroecological techniques to reconstruct disturbance history on a 1 ha plot in a multi-cohort hardwood stand in the Fall Line Hills of Alabama. The stand was dominated by Quercus alba L. and Liriodendron tulipifera L. Mingling index and stem maps indicated that most species were well dispersed throughout the stand, with the exception of L. tulipifera and Carya tomentosa (Poiret) Nuttal, which were relatively clustered. The oldest trees in the stand established in the 1770s, however, the largest recruitment event occurred ca. 1945 in conjunction with a stand-wide canopy disturbance. We posit that spatial heterogeneity of canopy removal during this event was largely responsible for the observed compositional and spatial complexity documented in the stand. In addition to the 1945 event, we recorded another stand-wide canopy disturbance in 1906 and 84 gap-scale disturbance events from 1802 to 2003. The conditions documented in the stand can be used as a benchmark to guide the creation and maintenance of complex multi-cohort stand characteristics, an increasingly popular management goal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Open AccessArticle Prevalence of Inter-Tree Competition and Its Role in Shaping the Community Structure of a Natural Mongolian Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) Forest
Forests 2017, 8(3), 84; doi:10.3390/f8030084
Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 2 March 2017 / Accepted: 8 March 2017 / Published: 16 March 2017
PDF Full-text (3718 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Inter-tree competition is considered one of the most important ecological processes of forest development. However, its importance in structuring the spatial patterns of plant communities remains controversial. We collected observational data from two plots in a natural Mongolian Scots pine forest to study
[...] Read more.
Inter-tree competition is considered one of the most important ecological processes of forest development. However, its importance in structuring the spatial patterns of plant communities remains controversial. We collected observational data from two plots in a natural Mongolian Scots pine forest to study the contribution of competition to tree growth, mortality, and size inequality. We used the nearest neighbour method to determine the presence of competition, and unmarked and marked spatial point pattern analyses to test the density-dependent mortality effects and the spatial autocorrelation of tree size. We identified significant positive correlations between tree canopy diameter and nearest neighbour distance in both plots, which were more evident in the denser plot. The pair correlation functions of both plots indicated regular distribution patterns of living trees, and trees living in more crowded environments were more likely to die. However, the mark differentiation characteristics showed weak evidence of a negative spatial autocorrelation in tree size, particularly in the high-density plot. The high mortality rate of suppressed trees and weak asymmetric competition may have accounted for the lack of dissimilarity in tree size. This study showed that inter-tree competition is an important determinant of the development of Mongolian Scots pine forests.
Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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