Dynamics of herbaceous vegetation during four years of experimental coppice introduction
Understanding the effects of coppicing on forest ecosystems is important for progress towards sustainable forest management. A newly established coppicing experiment in a secondary temperate deciduous forest in the SE Czech Republic provides a rather unique insight into succession driven by canopy thinning in a forest still lacking species typical for forests established a long time ago. Herbaceous layer vegetation was monitored for four subsequent years in 2012–2015. We focused on the influence of canopy thinning intensity in two different forest types defined by dominant tree species (oak and lime). Our results showed that the opening of the canopy had immediate effects on herbaceous vegetation. Coverage, species richness and compositional patterns followed the coppicing intensity gradient. The dominant tree species had contrasting effects. Under oak, the reaction to coppicing was weak. Under lime, strong reaction both related to coppicing intensity and temporal development was observed. Herbs with short life cycle had the greatest contribution, but perennial grasses also began to increase their coverage after coppicing. Several invasive species, mostly short-lived herbs, emerged but are supposed to retreat as the succession will proceed. We conclude that coppice introduction into a secondary forest led to contrasting patterns related to dominant tree species. The marked difference was probably due to the slow succession towards a future forest community saturated by species. This process may now be further diversified by coppicing management.