Current issue: 52(3)
In Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), it has been shown that the parental conditions have a role in the phenological variation among first-year seedlings. For this reason, it is argued that they should be comprehensively controlled before estimating the parental genotype effects. This controlled-cross study examined the effects of a set of fathers of Scots pines on the timing of budset and autumn frost hardening of first-year seedlings. The paternal genotypes had either a northern or southern provenance, but had spent a period of over 25 years as grafts in a shared climatic environment in two closely located southern orchards. Pollen applied in the crosses was collected from these orchards in one year and all the maternal genotypes were pollinated in only one seed orchard. The results of freeze tests and budset observations of the consequent progeny were analysed and additionally compared with results obtained using seedlings from seed lots of natural forests in order to estimate the ability of northern paternal genotypes to maintain a northern effect under southern conditions. This environmentally controlled study demonstrated a significant effect of the paternal genotype on the budset and autumn frost hardening of first-year seedling of Scots pine. With the applied study design, no significant indication of an environmental influence on the effect of the paternal genotype was obtained. The accuracy of the observations is discussed. It is concluded that the results suggest a minor role of mutability in the effects of Scots pine paternal genotypes.
Short day (SD) treatment is used as a dormancy induction in forest tree seedling nurseries in the boreal forest zone. However, SD treatment has caused early bud burst in the following spring, which may expose the seedlings to spring frosts. Because the mechanisms affecting earlier bud burst in SD treated seedlings are not fully understood yet, here we have studied the effect of SD treatment on the structure of buds in Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] seedlings. Seedlings were exposed to SD treatments or natural (CTRL) light and photoperiod in July in a nursery in Central Finland. The experiments included two lots of seedlings over two summers and the analyses were done under a stereo microscope. SD treatment advanced initiation of bud scales and formation of needle primordia, and thus the formation period was shorter in CTRL seedlings. In mature buds, no differences in primordial shoots were found between the treatments, whereas notable differences were found in bud scales. The SD buds had fewer and shorter bud scales than the CTRL buds. This led to significantly shorter bud scale complex and, consequently, to shorter buds in SD than in CTRL seedlings. Buds and needles matured earlier in SD treated seedlings. In the following spring, the primordial shoots started to elongate in both treatments around mid-May, when the SD buds started to break down, whereas CTRL buds started to break down in late May. The fewer number and shorter height of protective bud scales may expose buds to harsh winter temperatures and early loss of scales may predispose the SD buds to spring frosts.
The pine weevil Hylobius abietis L. is an economically important pest insect that kills high proportions of conifer seedlings in reforestation areas. It is present in conifer forests all over Europe but weevil abundance and risk for damage varies considerably between areas. This study aimed to obtain a useful model for predicting damage risks by analyzing survey data from 292 regular forest plantations in northern Sweden. A model of pine weevil attack was constructed using various site characteristics, including both climatic factors and factors related to forest management activities. The optimal model was rather imprecise but showed that the risk of pine weevil attack can be predicted approximatively with three principal variables: 1) the proportion of seedlings expected to be planted in mineral soil rather than soil covered with duff and debris, 2) age of clear-cut at the time of planting, and 3) calculated temperature sum at the location. The model was constructed using long-run average temperature sums for epoch 2010, and so effects of climate change can be inferred from the model by adjustment to future epochs. Increased damage risks with a warmer climate are strongly indicated by the model. Effects of a warmer climate on the geographical distribution and abundance of the pine weevil are also discussed. The new tool to better estimate the risk of damage should provide a basis for foresters in their choice of countermeasures against pine weevil damage in northern Europe.
The reach of different tree species’ crowns and the velocity of gap closure during the occupation of canopy gaps resulting from mortality and thinning during stand development determine species-specific competition and productivity within forest stands. However, classical dendrometric methods are rather inaccurate or even incapable of time- and cost-effectively measuring 3D tree structure, crown dynamics and space occupation non-destructively. Therefore, we applied terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) in order to measure the structural dynamics at tree and stand level from gap cutting in 2006 until 2012 in pure and mixed stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). In conclusion, our results suggest that Norway spruce invests newly available above-ground resources primarily into DBH as well as biomass growth and indicate a stronger resilience against loss of crown mass induced by mechanical damage. European beech showed a vastly different reaction, investing gains from additional above-ground resources primarily into faster occupation of canopy space. Whether our sample trees were located in pure or mixed groups around the gaps had no significant impact on their behavior during the years after gap cutting.
Fire as disturbance of forests has an important ecological and economical role in boreal and hemiboreal forests. The occurrence of forest fires is both climatically and anthropogenically determined and shifts in fire regimes are expected due to climate change. Although fire histories have been well documented in boreal regions, there is still insufficient information about fire occurrence in the Baltic States. In this study, spatio-temporal patterns and climatic drivers of forest fires were assessed by means of spatial and time-series analysis. The efficiency of Canadian Fire Weather (FWI) indices as indicators for fire activity was tested. The study was based on data from the literature, archives, and the Latvian State Forest service database. During the period 1922–2014, the occurrence and area affected by forest fires has decreased although the total area of forest land has nearly doubled, suggesting improvement of the fire suppression system as well as changes in socioeconomic situation. The geographical distribution of forest fires revealed two pronounced clusters near the largest cities of Riga and Daugavpils, suggesting dominance of human causes of ignitions. The occurrence of fires was mainly influenced by drought. FWI appeared to be efficient in predicting the fire occurrence: 23–34% of fires occurred on days with a high or extremely high fire danger class, which overall had a relative occurrence of only 4.3–4.6%. During the 20th century, the peak of fire activity shifted from May to April, probably due to global warming and socioeconomic reasons. The results of this study are relevant for forest hazard mitigation and development of fire activity prediction system in Latvia.
Passive rewildening of forest ecosystems is commonly used for rehabilitating degraded habitats closer to their natural origin in addition to costly active restoration measures. However, it is not clear if passive processes are effective and how long the recovery of main ecosystem properties takes. We investigate the recovery of forest soil and tree stand characteristics a century after cessation of slash-and-burn cultivation, a major historical intensive disturbance regime that was applied widely in boreal zone of Finland until late 1800s. We systematically sampled soil and tree stand parameters within former slash-and-burn and nearby control areas. Humus layer thickness and soil organic matter (SOM) stocks were still lower in the historical slash-and-burn than in control areas. Slash-and-burn areas also had a larger volume of live birch trees and a higher standing dead wood volume than control areas. Accordingly, organic matter (humus layer thickness and SOM stocks) correlated negatively with birch standing live tree volume. Combined OM stock in humus and uppermost 10 cm mineral soil layer was positively correlated with lying dead wood volume. Overall, we observed clear recovery of several natural properties but we also found that a century after cessation of frequent anthropogenic burnings, clear legacies of disturbance in the above- and below-ground parts of boreal ecosystem were evident. Our results indicate that if only passive rewildening is applied as a restoration measure, the full recovery of boreal forest is slow and the effects of historical land-use may persist for over hundred years in soil and tree properties.
Remote sensing using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -borne sensors is currently a highly interesting approach for the estimation of forest characteristics. 3D remote sensing data from airborne laser scanning or digital stereo photogrammetry enable highly accurate estimation of forest variables related to the volume of growing stock and dimension of the trees, whereas recognition of tree species dominance and proportion of different tree species has been a major complication in remote sensing-based estimation of stand variables. In this study the use of UAV-borne hyperspectral imagery was examined in combination with a high-resolution photogrammetric canopy height model in estimating forest variables of 298 sample plots. Data were captured from eleven separate test sites under weather conditions varying from sunny to cloudy and partially cloudy. Both calibrated hyperspectral reflectance images and uncalibrated imagery were tested in combination with a canopy height model based on RGB camera imagery using the k-nearest neighbour estimation method. The results indicate that this data combination allows accurate estimation of stand volume, mean height and diameter: the best relative RMSE values for those variables were 22.7%, 7.4% and 14.7%, respectively. In estimating volume and dimension-related variables, the use of a calibrated image mosaic did not bring significant improvement in the results. In estimating the volumes of individual tree species, the use of calibrated hyperspectral imagery generally brought marked improvement in the estimation accuracy; the best relative RMSE values for the volumes for pine, spruce, larch and broadleaved trees were 34.5%, 57.2%, 45.7% and 42.0%, respectively.
Canopy gap is the driving force of forest succession. Due to the uncontrollability, however, the influences of natural disturbances on gap formation and gap distribution pattern have been rarely understood in temperate secondary forest ecosystems. We monitored the gap formation and gap distribution pattern using high-resolution remote sensing images before and after two disturbances (wind/snowstorm in 2003 and flood in 2013). The results showed that after wind/snowstorm, the gap nearest neighbor index (GNNI) decreased, the vacant land area did not obviously change while the gap fraction and gaps density (especially medium size) increased. After the flood, GNNI decreased, the number of small gaps increased but larger gaps were in many cases extended to vacant land areas leading to a smaller total number of medium and large gaps but considerable increase in vacant land area. We also found that the gap densities increased with slope and altitude for wind/snowstorm-formed gaps, but they increased with increasing slope and decreasing altitude for flood-formed gaps. These results indicated that gaps were aggregated in steep slope and high altitude areas after wind/snowstorm, but in steep slope and low altitude areas after the flood. Medium gaps were mainly created by the wind/snowstorm due to the individual-level death of dominant tree with the continuous fall of surrounding trees. While, vacant lands were obviously created during the flood because of integral sweeping. Besides, smaller trees were easily damaged by runoff of flood, which induced small gaps. In summary, forest managers may pay more attention to use gaps to accelerate forest succession after wind/snowstorms and to restore vegetation in vacant lands after floods.
Rut formation caused by logging operations has been recognised as a challenge for Swedish forestry. Frequent traffic with heavy machines on extraction roads, together with a warmer climate, is one of the factors that increases the risk of rut formation in forests. One possible way to control this impact of logging operations is to design and apply decision support tools that enable operators to take sensitive areas into account when planning extraction roads. In this study, 16 different logging sites in south-eastern Sweden were surveyed after clear-cut. Information was collected about extraction roads (i.e. traffic intensity, whether the roads had been reinforced with slash) and ruts. Digital maps such as cartographic depth-to-water (DTW) index and soil type were also examined for any connection to rut positions. Soil type and traffic intensity were found to be significant factors in rut formation, while DTW and slash reinforcement were not. However, the DTW map combined with other information, such as soil type, could contribute to decision support tools that improve planning of extraction roads.
Crown dimensions are correlated to growth of other parts of a tree and often used as predictors in growth models. The crown-to-bole diameter ratio (CDBDR), which is a ratio of maximum crown width to diameter at breast height (DBH), was modelled using data from permanent sample plots located on Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) stands in different parts of the Czech Republic. Among various tree and stand-level measures evaluated, DBH, height to crown base (HCB), dominant height (HDOM), basal area of trees larger in diameter than a subject tree (BAL), basal area proportion of the species of interest (BAPOR), and Hegyi’s competition index (CI) were found to be significant predictors in the CDBDR model. Random effects were included using the mixed-effects modelling to describe sample plot-level variation. For each species, the mixed-effects model described a larger part of the variation of the CDBDR than nonlinear ordinary least squares model with no trend in the residuals. The spatially explicit mixed-effects model showed more attractive fit statistics [conditional R2 ≈ 0.73 (spruce), 0.78 (beech)] than its spatially inexplicit counterpart [conditional R2 ≈ 0.71 (spruce), 0.76 (beech)]. The model showed that CDBDR increased with increasing HDOM – a measure that combines the stand development stage and site quality – but decreased with increasing HCB and competition (increasing BAL and CI), and decreasing proportions of the species of interest (increasing BAPOR). For both species, the spatially explicit mixed-effects model should be a preferred choice for a precise prediction of the CDBDR. The CDBDR model will have various management implications such as determination of spacing, stand basal area, stocking, and planning of appropriate species mixture.
The objective of this study was to investigate basic density and its within-stem variation by studying 84 European aspen stems from 28 forest stands in Latvia. The studied forest stands covered all age classes from young stands to matured forests in representative growth conditions of European aspen. The densities of 2722 wood and 1022 bark specimens were measured from the sampled trees. Only the knot-free wood specimens without obvious wood defects were chosen for analyses. A map of basic density summarizing its radial and axial variations was constructed to show species-specific, within-stem variability and the relationships between density and tree and stand variables were examined. Stem wood and bark of the European aspen show different patterns of basic density variation along the tree stem. Wood density increases from pith to bark up to certain dimensions and shows a slight decrease afterwards. The weighted basic density of bark (446 ± 39.6 kg m–3) was higher than stem wood density (393 ± 30.4 kg m–3). Our results suggest that wood and bark density measurements obtained at breast height can be used for reliable estimation of the densities of whole-tree stem components, while tree parameters such as diameter at breast height (DBH), tree height and social status or stand parameters, including number of trees, basal area and age, are weak predictors in this context.