Characterizations of physical structural complexity are an important surrogate for the potential of forested stands to provide desired ecosystem services such as biodiversity. Distinguishing between stands with different structural conditions is not only a necessary feature of useful structural metrics and indices, but how such measures vary among stands can reveal clues to the ecological processes driving structure. We used stand inventory metrics and indices of structural complexity to differentiate between even-aged and uneven-aged structure types using 10 stem-mapped coniferous stands of each type distributed across Switzerland. Within each structure type, we further explored relationships among stand inventory metrics and structural indices over a roughly 10-year period of management intervention. The even-aged and uneven-aged structure types were clearly differentiated using both stand inventory metrics and spatially explicit structural complexity indices. Overall, structural complexity within evenaged stands was strongly related to, and best predicted by, metrics including the distribution of basal area among canopy layers, while complexity in the uneven-aged stands was most strongly related to, and best predicted by, metrics including measures of abundance. Although predictive models could be developed for canopy position mixture, diameter differentiation, and small-scale structural complexity (but not spatial aggregation) using only stand inventory metrics, the prediction success after only a single management intervention was lower than expected. These results indicate that research to explore small-scale structural complexity requires detailed spatially explicit inventory data and that management to enhance structural complexity may require the manipulation of different attributes in stands of even-aged (diameter distribution) and uneven-aged (total abundance) structure types.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science