The structure of boreal old-growth forests changes at multiple spatial scales over decades

Niko Kulha, Leena Pasanen, Lasse Holmström, Louis de Grandpre, Sylvie Gauthier, Timo Kuuluvainen, Tuomas Aakala

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Sammanfattning

Context: Changes in the structure of boreal old-growth forests are typically studied at a specific spatial scale. Consequently, little is known about forest development across different spatial scales.

Objectives: We investigated how and at what spatial scales forest structure changed over several decades in three 4 km² boreal old-growth forests landscapes in northeastern Finland and two in Quebec, Canada.

Methods: We used canopy cover values visually interpreted to 0.1-ha grid cells from aerial photographs taken at three time points between the years 1959 and 2011, and error distributions quantified for the interpretation. We identified the spatial scales at which canopy cover changed between the time points, and examined the credibility of changes at these scales using the error distributions in Bayesian inference.

Results: Canopy cover changed at three to four spatial scales, the number of scales depending on the studied landscape and time interval. At large scales (15.4–321.7 ha), canopy cover increased in Finland during all time intervals. In Quebec, the direction of the large-scale change varied between the studied time intervals, owing to the occurrence of an insect outbreak and a consequent recovery. However, parts of these landscapes also showed canopy cover increase. Superimposed on the large-scale developments, canopy cover changed variably at smaller scales (1.3–2.8-ha and 0.1-ha).

Conclusions: Our findings support the idea that the structure of boreal old-growth forests changes at discernible spatial scales. Instead of being driven by gap dynamics, the old-growth forests in the studied regions are currently reacting to large-scale drivers by an increase in canopy cover.
Originalspråkengelska
TidskriftLandscape Ecology
Antal sidor16
ISSN0921-2973
DOI
Status!!E-pub ahead of print - 10 feb 2020
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

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  • 1181 Ekologi, evolutionsbiologi
  • 4112 Skogsvetenskap

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