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Do changes in spatial distribution, structure and abundance of silver fir ( Abies alba Mill.) indicate its decline?Ficko, Andrej; Poljanec, Ales; Boncina, Andrej
Forest ecology and management, 2011, 2011-02-00, 2015-07-10, Letnik: 261, Številka: 4Journal Article, Publication
▶ Most selected indicators confirmed the hypothesis of fir decline in the period 1970–2008. ▶ Spatiotemporal dynamics of fir 1970–2008 was most affected by forest type. ▶ Forest types represent a complex of site conditions and past forest management. Silver fir decline was investigated based on changes in spatial distribution of fir, fir abundance in forest stands, dbh (age) structure of fir, and abundance of fir regeneration. The authors used a large-scale approach to study the dynamics of silver fir over nearly 40 years. Based on Silva-SI, a spatial information system, the majority of total forest area in Slovenia was analysed for changes in the distribution of silver fir in the period 1970–2008 using artificial neural networks (ANNs), with respect to site, stand, and forest management variables. Additionally, changes in abundance of silver fir (hereafter fir) in the same period were analysed with a general linear model, while changes in the dbh structure of fir and fir regeneration were analysed with non-parametric tests. Most selected indicators confirmed the hypothesis of fir decline in the period 1970–2008, as evidenced by a reduction in the area of forests with a share of fir in the total growing stock >25% (from 18.9% to 9.5% of total area), a reduction in the share of fir in the growing stock of forest stands (from 17.5% to 7.5%), ageing of the fir population, and a disproportionate share of fir saplings in the total saplings relative to fir's share in the growing stock of forest stands. A 1.5% increase in fir distribution area in the observed period contradicts the decline hypothesis. ANNs showed that the spatiotemporal dynamics of fir was most affected by four variables: forest type, share of fir in the potential natural vegetation, mean annual precipitation, and mean annual temperature. The latter two, together with the growing stock at the start of study period, the degree of connectivity between fir stands, and bedrock type, were significant predictors of decline of fir abundance in forest stands. Significant differences in spatiotemporal dynamics and changes in fir abundance were found between forest types representing a complex of site conditions and past forest management. A further decline of abundance of fir on a large spatial scale in the next decades is expected. Conservation of fir in forest stands will depend mainly on the successful regeneration of fir and sufficient recruitment.
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