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  • Author or Editor: K. Kenderes x
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This study investigated if ecological traits of forest floor vegetation could be used as indicators of naturalness of beech forest in Hungary, by comparing near-natural unmanaged stands with managed ones. Seventeen patches in the unmanaged Kékes Forest Reserve were compared with 11 subcompartments of different ages in the surrounding managed forest. In each stand, the character state distributions of 9 ecological species traits were calculated based on presence/absence data of plants. Averages for unmanaged versus managed stands were compared. Significant effects of management were shown. The characteristics of herbaceous plants with higher frequency in managed stands include late start and longer duration of flowering, overwintering canopy, and small epizoochorous seeds. Unmanaged stands are richer in plants that bear leaves from spring to autumn, start flowering early or flower very shortly, produce large seeds. Relevance of this method is discussed for Central Europe, where in large areas intensive forest management rather than fragmentation or break in forest continuity is the major human disturbance.

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We analysed the role of topography, tree stand characteristics and management on the susceptibility of forest stands to abiotic natural disturbances. In 1996, stands of Börzsöny Mts, Hungary were hit by a severe ice storm, then by strong winds three years later. Affected areas were mapped on aerial photos, and we built a GIS database containing variables describing topography and tree stand characteristics. The role of variables in predicting ice break and windfall was investigated by non-parametric statistical tests and by a series of C&RT (Classification and Regression Tree) analyses. Elevation, aspect and slope proved to have strong statistical relationships with the distribution of both ice break and windfall, with misclassification error (MER) of 18% and 15%, respectively, if studied without stand descriptors. Mixing ratio and age of beech were the most important stand descriptors to explain the distribution of ice break (MER=15%), whereas that of windfall was best described by the age and height of the two dominant tree species (MER=11%). The explanatory power could be increased if all variables (topographic + stand descriptors) were considered, though the increase in explanatory power was higher in the case of ice break (MER decreased from 15% to 11%) than for windfall (MER decreased from 11% to 10%). Since management related stand variables (beech mixture ratio, age, height, amount of recently felled stock, slenderness) and susceptibility to disturbance events seemed to be related, our results suggest that the sensitivity of tree stands could be decreased by increasing compositional and structural heterogeneity.

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