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European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 249–259 | Cite as

Canopy gaps in an old-growth fir-beech forest remnant of Western Carpathians

  • Stanislav KucbelEmail author
  • Peter Jaloviar
  • Milan Saniga
  • Jaroslav Vencurik
  • Vladimír Klimaš
Original Paper

Abstract

The old-growth forest remnants of Western Carpathians provide a unique possibility to study the disturbance regimes of forest ecosystems without human influence. This study investigated the gap dynamics in beech-dominated old-growth forest Badínsky prales in Central Slovakia. Considering the decline of silver fir in last decades, the study analyzed the main characteristics of disturbance regime with the emphasis on the role of fir. On a 5-ha research plot, the dominant tree species was beech, the proportion of fir reached about 10%. However, a significantly higher proportion of fir (>30%) was observed in the coarse woody debris. In total, 45 canopy openings were recorded. Canopy gaps and expanded gaps covered 11.3 and 37.9% of the forest area, respectively. Despite the highest frequency of small gaps <100 m2, their proportion of the overall gap area reached only 20%, what suggests the important role of intermediate and large gaps in the gap dynamics as well. The analysis of gapmakers’ crown projections confirmed a rather low contribution of fir (14.6%) to the gap formation despite its relatively intensive mortality. A high variability of the next generation age between the gaps (6–44 years) was recorded what suggests a large temporal variation of the disturbance events. The lateral expansion of adjacent trees was found to be the determining process for the closure of small canopy openings. The intermediate and large gaps are more likely closed by the height growth of natural regeneration and understory trees that are present on the majority of the area.

Keywords

Old-growth Canopy gaps Fagus sylvatica Abies alba Disturbance regime 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was financially supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency, project APVV-0082-06. We would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanislav Kucbel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Jaloviar
    • 1
  • Milan Saniga
    • 1
  • Jaroslav Vencurik
    • 1
  • Vladimír Klimaš
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry, Department of SilvicultureTechnical UniversityZvolenSlovakia

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