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Canopy gaps in a Carpathian subalpine spruce forest

Bestandslücken in einem subalpinen Fichtenwald der Westkarpaten

Summary

The size, number, and enlargement of gaps as well as the process of gap formation were analyzed in a subalpine spruce forest in the Babia Góra massif, one of the highest in the western Carpathian Mountains. Openings in the forest canopy of up to one hundred square meters are typical structural elements of subalpine spruce forests. Gaps comprised 34% of the studied forest area of 14.4 ha. There were 38 gaps per ha, most of them <100 m2. Average gap size was 92 m2. Most gaps were environmentally heterogeneous as a result of their progressive and ongoing enlargement, which was evidenced in many gaps by snags and logs representing a wide spectrum of decomposition classes. The density of logs and the area covered by them were about two times larger in gaps than under spruce canop. Logs in gaps were of greater diameter. The mean gap size has increased in recent years. At the same time establishment of new gaps became rarer and enlargement of existing gaps took place more often. This suggests that the average area of gaps will further increase in the future. The closure of gaps resulting from the elongation of spruce branches on adjacent trees and through the development of young trees did not keep pace with the process of gap creation. It yielded a 0.3–0.4% increase of total gap area per year.

Zusammenfassung

Die Größe und Anzahl von Bestandeslücken sowie die Vorgänge ihrer Entstehung und Vergrößerung wurden in einem subalpinen Fichtenwald des Babia-Gora-Massivs in den hohen Westkarpaten untersucht. Wichtigste Ergebnisse waren: Lichtungen des Bestandesschirms von bis zu 100 m2 sind typische Strukturelemente im subalpinen Fichtenwald. Bestandeslücken machten 34 % des 14,4 ha großen Untersuchungsgebietes aus. Wir fanden 38 Lücken pro ha, die meisten weniger als 100 m2 groß (durchschnittlich 92 m2). Die meisten Lücken waren standörtlich heterogen als Folge ihrer allmählichen und langanhaltenden Vergrößerung, die in vielen Fällen durch Vorhandensein von Totholz sehr unterschiedlicher Zersetzungsgrade nachweisbar war. Dichte und Flächenanteil von liegendem Totholz waren in den Lücken etwa doppelt so hoch wie unter Fichtenschirm, und die dort liegenden Stämme waren dicker. Die durchschnittliche Größe von Lücken hat sich in den letzten Jahren vergrößert. In derselben Zeitspanne nahm die Rate ihrer Neuentstehung ab, d. h. der Prozeß der Lückenerweiterung herrschte vor, woraus sich eine zukünftig anhaltende Zunahme der Lückengrößen prognostizieren läßt. Das Schließen von Lücken durch seitlichen Kronenausbau von Randbäumen und Aufwachsen von Verjüngung hielt mit dem Prozess der Lückenneuentstehung nicht mit, der eine jährliche Zunahme von 0,3–0,4% der Gesamtlückenfläche ausmachte.

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Correspondence to Jan Holeksa.

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Holeksa, J., Cybulski, M. Canopy gaps in a Carpathian subalpine spruce forest. Forstw Cbl 120, 331–348 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02796104

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Keywords

  • subalpine spruce forest
  • canopy gap
  • coarse woody debris
  • western Carpathians
  • southern Poland

Schüsselwörter

  • subalpiner Fichtenwald
  • Bestandeslücken
  • Totholz
  • Westkarpaten
  • Süd-Polen