International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 119–129 | Cite as

The effects of gap size on some microclimate variables during late summer and autumn in a temperate broadleaved deciduous forest

Original Paper

Abstract

The creation of gaps can strongly influence forest regeneration and habitat diversity within forest ecosystems. However, the precise characteristics of such effects depend, to a large extent, upon the way in which gaps modify microclimate and soil water content. Hence, the aim of this study was to understand the effects of gap creation and variations in gap size on forest microclimate and soil water content. The study site, in North West England, was a mixed temperate broadleaved deciduous forest dominated by mature sessile oak (Quercus petraea), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with some representatives of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). Solar radiation (I), air temperature (TA), soil temperature (TS), relative humidity (h), wind speed (v) and soil water content (Ψ) were measured at four natural treefall gaps created after a severe storm in 2006 and adjacent sub-canopy sites. I, TA, TS, and Ψ increased significantly with gap size; h was consistently lower in gaps than the sub-canopy but did not vary with gap size, while the variability of v could not be explained by the presence or size of gaps. There were systematic diurnal patterns in all microclimate variables in response to gaps, but no such patterns existed for Ψ. These results further our understanding of the abiotic and consequent biotic responses to gaps in broadleaved deciduous forests created by natural treefalls, and provide a useful basis for evaluating the implications of forest management practices.

Keywords

Treefall gap Microclimate Soil water content Broadleaved deciduous forest 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Stephen Bradley, Sandeep Singh, Alex Onojeghuo and Sharifah Attashah for invaluable assistance in the field. This study was supported by the Division of Geography Research Committee, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, United Kingdom and the Ministry of Higher Education and MARA University of Technology, Malaysia. We also would like to thank the National Trust, U.K. for granting access to Eaves Wood as study site.

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Copyright information

© ISB 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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