EISSN : 19994907
Current Publisher: MDPI (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 3,184
Google Scholar h5-index: 32
Latest articles in this journal
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111010
Abstract:Elevation often becomes an important component in the breeding site selection of forest birds because it may affect individual fitness. To understand how the threatened fairy pitta (Pitta nympha Temminck & Schlegel) selects a particular elevation for breeding and whether the pitta achieves better reproductive performance in its preferred elevation, we surveyed for the presence of breeding pittas and recorded their reproductive performances at six different elevation zones on Mount Halla in Jeju Island, Korea. We expected that preference for breeding sites and reproductive performance would gradually decrease with increasing elevation. In fact, 73 presence and 78 absence records indicated no preference for breeding sites at elevations lower than 400 m. However, forest habitats between 400 and 600 m were strongly preferred, while locations above 800 m were clearly avoided. The egg-laying date was significantly earlier at lower elevations, but other measures of reproductive performance did not differ between the preferred and non-preferred elevations. Contrary to our expectations, this indicates that there was no clear advantage to a pitta’s reproductive performance based on elevation preference. Our findings suggest that the inherent optimal selection for the best reproductive outcomes was not a key driving factor for the pattern of elevation preference observed, and that the pitta’s preference might be a response to external and environmental factors such as climate conditions. The reduction of anthropogenic impacts by mitigating human–pitta conflicts at lower elevations, such as accidental non-reproductive mortality and forest loss, would help enhance the conservation of the fairy pitta on Jeju Island, a stronghold of this threatened species in Korea.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111005
Abstract:Soil formation in post-mining sites is crucial for restoring ecosystem function, and soil formation depend on the accumulation of soil organic matter and the development of an active microbial community. In this study, we used substrate-induced respiration (SIR) and Biolog plates to characterize microbial catabolic profiles in a chronosequence of soil samples from 15 unreclaimed post-mining sites in Sokolov, Czech Republic. The sites had been undergoing spontaneous succession for 3 to 45 years. Biolog ECO plates included 31 substrates. Of substrates used for SIR (glucose, chitin, cellulose, Tween 80, phenylethylamine, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, L-asparagine, D-mannitol, D-galacturonic acid, α-cyclodextrin, and 4-hydroxy benzoic acid), eight were also used for the Biolog plates. Soil respiration, total bacteria number, and culturable bacteria number were also measured. The total and culturable number of bacteria increased with site age (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively). The percentage of culturable bacteria decreased with site age (p < 0.01). Biolog analysis indicated that average well-color development (AWCD), evenness, and richness increased with site age. SIR data indicated that only average activities tended to increase with site age (p = 0.06). According to redundancy analysis (RDA), the eight substrates, which were commonly used in both methods (SIR and BIOLOG) explained 74.4% of the variation of data from all Biolog substrates. Among the eight substrates common to both methods, only data for N-acetyl-D-glucosamine were positively correlated (p < 0.01) between Biolog and SIR. Both methods revealed microbial catabolic profile changed along the chronosequence. PCA indicated that site age, soil carbon, and pH were the most important drivers of microbial catabolic profiles.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111007
Abstract:Forest ecosystems in an ecotone and their dynamics to climate change are growing ecological and environmental concerns. Phenology is one of the most critical biological indicators of climate change impacts on forest dynamics. In this study, we estimated and visualized the spatiotemporal patterns of forest phenology from 2001 to 2017 in the Qinling Mountains (QMs) based on the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) from MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). We further analyzed this data to reveal the impacts of climate change and topography on the start of the growing season (SOS), end of the growing season (EOS), and the length of growing season (LOS). Our results showed that forest phenology metrics were very sensitive to changes in elevation, with a 2.4 days delayed SOS, 1.4 days advanced EOS, and 3.8 days shortened LOS for every 100 m increase in altitude. During the study period, on average, SOS advanced by 0.13 days year−1, EOS was delayed by 0.22 days year−1, and LOS increased by 0.35 day year−1. The phenological advanced and delayed speed across different elevation is not consistent. The speed of elevation-induced advanced SOS increased slightly with elevation, and the speed of elevation-induced delayed EOS shift reached a maximum value of 1500 m from 2001 to 2017. The sensitivity of SOS and EOS to preseason temperature displays that an increase of 1 °C in the regionally averaged preseason temperature would advance the average SOS by 1.23 days and delay the average EOS by 0.72 days, respectively. This study improved our understanding of the recent variability of forest phenology in mountain ecotones and explored the correlation between forest phenology and climate variables in the context of the ongoing climate warming.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111008
Abstract:In nearly 600 randomly selected forest stands including elms (Ulmus spp.), we conducted field research to identify them to species level and to find trees showing symptoms of Dutch elm disease (DED). The presented data show that all the 3 native elms (U. glabra, U. laevis, and U. minor) still exist in the whole ranges of their distribution in Poland reported earlier, but their role as forest-forming species has changed. In comparison to published data, the contribution of U. minor has markedly decreased, while an increased contribution was observed in the case of U. laevis, a species which in the past was predominantly located out of woodland and was rarely cultivated. In mountains, where the most frequent is U. glabra, the contribution of elms to forest stands is currently clearly lower than in the lowlands and uplands of Poland. The observed changes most probably result from Dutch elm disease. It cannot be excluded that the changes are at least partly linked with natural correction of forest stand composition modified earlier by human activity (silviculture). In all parts of Poland, trees with symptoms of Dutch elm disease are found, but large-scale decline (of a majority of elm trees) is observed only in about 1.5% of the directly investigated localities.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111006
Abstract:Changes in the light availability in forests generated by diversified retention patterns (e.g., clear cut, partial harvest) have been shown to strongly filter the plant species present. Modified soil microsite conditions due to post-harvest site preparation (e.g., mechanical site preparation, prescribed fire) might also be an important determinant of plant diversity. The objective here was to detect how retention pattern and post-harvest site preparation act as filters that explain the understory functional diversity in boreal forests. We also assessed whether these effects were dependent on forest attributes (stand type, time since fire, and time since harvest). We retrieved data from seven different studies within 101 sites in boreal forests in Eastern Canada. Our data included forests harvested with two retention patterns: careful logging and clear cut, plus unharvested control forests. Three post-harvest site preparation techniques were applied: plow or disk trenching after careful logging, and prescribed fire after clear cut. We collected trait data (10 traits) representing plant morphology, regeneration strategy, or resource utilization for common species. Our results demonstrated significant variation in functional diversity after harvest. The combined effect of retention pattern and site preparation was the most important factor explaining understory diversity compared to retention pattern only and forest attributes. According to RLQ analysis, harvested forests with site preparation favored traits reflecting resistance or resilience ability after disturbance (clonal guerilla species, geophytes, and species with higher seed weight). Yet harvested forests without site preparation mainly affected understory plant species via their light requirements. Forest attributes did not play significant roles in affecting the relationship between site preparation and functional diversity or traits. Our results indicated the importance of the compounding effects of light variation and soil disturbance in filtering understory diversity and composition in boreal forests. Whether these results are also valid for other ecosystems still needs to be demonstrated.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111003
Abstract:Understory vegetation hosts high biodiversity and plays a critical role in the ecosystem processes of boreal forests. However, the drivers of understory plant diversity in this high-latitude ecosystem remain uncertain. To investigate the influences of forest type and latitude on understory beta diversity at different scales, we quantified the species composition of Vaccinium uliginosum Linnaeus communities under broadleaf and coniferous forests at two latitudes at the quadrat (2 × 2 m) and plot (10 × 10 m) scales in the Greater Xing’an Mountains, NE China. At the quadrat scale, species alpha diversity of V. uliginosum communities was higher in broadleaf forests than that in coniferous forests at both latitudes. The differences in species beta diversity (the Sørensen’s dissimilarity) in two forest types depended on the latitude: beta diversity in broadleaf forests was higher than that in coniferous forests at the higher latitude, while beta diversity in coniferous forests was higher at the lower latitude. At the plot scale, alpha and beta diversity of V. uliginosum communities decreased from broadleaf forests to coniferous forests at the higher latitude, and they did not show significant differences between forest types at the lower latitude. These results indicate the interactive effects of forest type and latitude on beta diversity of understory vegetation. Moreover, the influences of forest type and latitude on species alpha and beta diversity were different across the two spatial scales, suggesting that the assembly mechanisms underlying species diversity may be different at different scales. Understanding the maintenance of understory vegetation diversity will benefit the conservation and management of boreal forests.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111004
Abstract:Dynamic monitoring of carbon storage in forests resources is important for tracking ecosystem functionalities and climate change impacts. In this study, we used multi-year Landsat data combined with a Random Forest (RF) algorithm to estimate the forest aboveground carbon (AGC) in a forest area in China (Hang-Jia-Hu) and analyzed its spatiotemporal changes during the past two decades. Maximum likelihood classification was applied to make land-use maps. Remote sensing variables, such as the spectral band, vegetation indices, and derived texture features, were extracted from 20 Landsat TM and OLI images over five different years (2000, 2004, 2010, 2015, and 2018). These variables were subsequently selected according to their importance and subsequently used in the RF algorithm to build an estimation model of forest AGC. The results showed the following: (1) Verification of classification results showed maximum likelihood can extract land information effectively. Our land cover classification yielded overall accuracies between 86.86% and 89.47%. (2) Additionally, our RF models showed good performance in predicting forest AGC, with R2 from 0.65 to 0.73 in the training and testing phase and a RMSE range between 3.18 and 6.66 Mg/ha. RMSEr in the testing phase ranged from 20.27 to 22.27 with a low model error. (3) The estimation results indicated that forest AGC in the past two decades increased with density at 10.14 Mg/ha, 21.63 Mg/ha, 26.39 Mg/ha, 29.25 Mg/ha, and 44.59 Mg/ha in 2000, 2004, 2010, 2015, and 2018. The total forest AGC storage had a growth rate of 285%. (4) Our study showed that, although forest area decreased in the study area during the time period under study, the total forest AGC increased due to an increment in forest AGC density. However, such an effect is overridden in the vicinity of cities by intense urbanization and the loss of forest covers. Our study demonstrated that the combined use of remote sensing data and machine learning techniques can improve our ability to track the forest changes in support of regional natural resource management practices.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111000
Abstract:Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea Gaertn. f. (Rubiaceae) is an endangered mangrove species found in China, and its only known location is in Hainan Island. Previous studies conducted on S. hydrophyllaceae have mainly focused on its location, biological characteristics, and medical effects. However, to date, there has been no published report regarding the genetics or genome of this endangered mangrove species. In this study, we developed valuable chloroplast genome-related molecular resources of S. hydrophyllaceae by comparing with it related Rubiaceae species. The chloroplast genome of S. hydrophyllaceae was found to be a circular molecule with a total size of 155,132 bp, and it is observed to have a quadripartite structure. The whole chloroplast genome contains 132 genes, of which 88 and 36 are protein-coding and transfer RNA genes, respectively; it also contains four ribosomal RNA genes with an overall GC content of 37.60%. A total of 52 microsatellites were detected in the S. hydrophyllacea chloroplast genome, and microsatellite marker detection identified A/T mononucleotides as majority simple sequence repeats in all nine Rubiaceae chloroplast genomes. Comparative analyses of these nine chloroplast genomes revealed variable regions, including matK, rps16, and atpF. All nine species shared 13 RNA-editing sites distributed across eight coding genes. Phylogenetic analyses based on the complete sequences of the chloroplast genomes revealed that the position of S. hydrophyllaceae is closer to the Coffeeae genus than to Cinchoneae, Naucleeae, Morindeae, and Rubieae in the Rubiaceae family. The genome information reported in this study could find further application in the evolution and population genetic studies, and it helps improve our understanding of the endangered mechanism and the development of conservation strategies of this endangered mangrove plant.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111002
Abstract:In the Pacific Northwest, the use of forest vegetation management (FVM) and seedling stock type selection are important tools to ensure seedling establishment according to organizational objectives and state laws. Individually, these two reforestation decisions have been shown to increase growth and survival of Douglas-fir seedlings, however, the interaction between seedling stock type and level of vegetation control represents economic and ecologic tradeoffs that are less well understood. This study was designed to test the combined effects of three FVM regimes and three containerized stock types, one of which was experimental at the time, on Douglas-fir growth during the initial ten years of establishment on a site near Belfair, Washington (USA). When compared to the no-action control, FVM treatments reduced competitive plant cover below 20% during the year of application, and differences in vegetation cover persisted through the fifth growing season. Vegetation species diversity recovered quickly after FVM and there were no differences among the treatments by the third growing season. After ten growing seasons, trees in plots treated with FVM were 1.1 m taller with a mean diameter at breast height (DBH) 2.2 cm larger than those in the no-action control. Larger seedlings at the time of planting (styro-60) were 0.6 m taller with a mean DBH 1.1 cm larger than smaller seedlings (styro-8 and styro-15). The only significant stock type by FVM interaction in the experiment occurred with the survival of styro-60 seedlings growing in the no action control which had lower survival than all other treatment combinations (67% vs 91%). The long-term competitive impact of shrub cover was demonstrated by a strong non-linear relationship. Increasing cumulative shrub cover from 10% to 30% during the first two years of establishment reduced stand volume at year 10 by 79%.
Forests, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/f10111001
Abstract:Shelterbelt systems play pivotal roles in providing goods and services to the rural community and the society at large, but phosphorus (P) cycling in shelterbelt systems is poorly studied, while P cycling and availability would be linked to the ecological function and services of shelterbelt systems. This study was conducted to understand how long-term (>30 years) land-use between cropland and forestland in shelterbelt systems affect soil P status. We investigated modified Kelowna (PKelowna) and Mehlich-3 (PMehlich) extractable P, P fractions (by sequential chemical fractionation), P sorption properties in the 0–10 and 10–30 cm soils and their relationship in six pairs of the cropland areas and adjacent forestland (each pair constitutes a shelterbelt system) in central Alberta. Both PKelowna and PMehlich in the 0–10 cm soil were greater in the cropland than in the forestland. The PKelowna ranged from 10 to 170 and 2 to 57 mg kg−1 within the cropland areas and forestland, respectively. The inorganic P fraction in the 0–30 cm depth was significantly related to PKelowna (R2 = 0.55) and PMehlich (R2 = 0.80) in cropland, but organic P fraction was not significantly related with neither PKelowna nor PMehlich. The iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) associated P (Fe/Al-P) explained ~50% and ~45% of the variation of PKelowna in the 0–30 cm soil in the cropland and forestland, respectively. The Fe/Al-P and organic P fractions in the 0–10 cm soil were greater in the cropland than in the forestland. The differences in availability and P forms depending on the land use type in shelterbelts suggest that P management needs to be land-use type-specific for shelterbelt systems.