Four decades of forest succession in the oak-dominated forest reserves in Slovakia

  • Saniga M
  • Balanda M
  • Kucbel S
 et al. 
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Species composition, production and the recovery processes were analyzed in three protected areas dominated by natural oak forests in Slovakia over four decades after the cessation of human impact. In each forest reserve, three permanent plots of 0.5 ha were established and monitored regularly every 10 years. As expected, a decrease of oaks in all investigated areas was observed, regardless of the intensity of past human interventions. Growth rates of oak stem density were negative in all sites ranging from -0.7% yr-1 (Kašivárová) to -2.1% yr-1 (Bujanov). A typical rotated-sigmoid distribution of tree diameters was detected over the whole period only for the Boky reserve, while the mo- derately affected site (Kašivárová) showed a bimodal pattern and the most af- fected site (Bujanov) showed the typical unimodal distribution. Considering the spatial diversity, such evidence is consistent with the different intensity of past human impacts occurred at each site. In Boky, the most diverse structure was reflected in the highest long-term mean stem density and the lowest basal area and growing stock. The past-affected sites reached higher values of basic stand parameters, with the average basal area and the growing stock correl- ated negatively with the level of structural heterogeneity. A constant increase of deadwood volume and dead-to-live wood ratio was also observed over the whole period of investigation. Long-term volume of deadwood and its propor- tion tended to be higher in the reserves formerly affected by human inteven- tions. A tendency towards a rotated-sigmoid distribution of diameters was de- tected for both sites that experienced past human impacts. Considering the vertical stand structure, the most dynamic changes were observed in the lower and middle layer. Moreover, the displacement of the light-demanding oaks by shade-tolerant species (beech, hornbeam) was detected. The intensity of such substitution directly reflected the intensity of structure modification in the past. Our results suggest that the process of forest recovery and oak loss signi- ficantly depends on the level of past human interventions. Keywords:

Author-supplied keywords

  • Forest reserve
  • Oak decline
  • Past human impact
  • Quercus petraea L
  • Recovery

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