Although proposed as a means of increasing structural diversity in managed forests, the impact of single-tree selection on the temporal dynamics of three-dimensional structure has not been previously evaluated. Forest structural development in Picea-dominated stands was contrasted over 15 years in stem-mapped randomized plots in southern Finland that underwent either low thinning (creating the even-sized (ES) structure of a bell-shaped diameter distribution) or single-tree selection (maintaining the uneven-sized (UES) structure of a reverse-J-shaped distribution) through multiple harvest entries. Structure was quantified with nonspatial stand attributes (e.g., density) and indices that quantify spatially explicit relationships among neighboring trees (e.g., structural complexity index (SCI)). Over time, three-dimensional structure reflected differential tree growth and mortality, resulting in minor changes in tree composition, spatial pattern, and tree size differentiation and somewhat greater changes in the SCI. The third harvest entry simplified the forest structure in both structure types. However, structural metrics such as the variability of tree diameters, tree size differentiation, and the SCI recovered to preharvest levels within 2-4 years in UES plots, whereas no recovery was seen in the ES structure type. Single-tree selection was demonstrated to perpetuate the uneven-sized structure associated with natural nonpyrogenic Picea-dominated forests.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change