Site quality influence over understory plant diversity in old-growth and harvested Nothofagus pumilio forests

E. A. Gallo, M. V. Lencinas, G. J. Martinez-Pastur


Aim of study: The effects and interactions of shelterwood forest harvesting and site qualities over understory plant species diversity and composition were compared among primary and harvested Nothofagus pumilio forests.

Area of study: Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), on three pure conditions (one and six year-old harvested, and primary without previous harvesting forests) and three site qualities (high, medium and low).

Material and Methods: Understory richness and cover (%) were registered in five replicates of 1 hectare each per treatment. Taxonomic species were classified in categories (groups, origin and life forms). Two-way ANOVAs and multivariate analyses were conducted.

Main results: Shelterwood harvesting and site quality significantly influenced understory cover and richness, which allow the introduction of native and exotic species and increasing of dicot and monocot covers. In dicots, monocots, exotics and total groups, higher richness and covers were related to time. Meanwhile, cover reached similar high values in all site qualities on dicot, native and total groups. On the other hand, monocot and exotic richness and cover remain similar in primary and recently harvested forests, and greatly increased in old harvested forests. Mosses and ferns were among the most sensitive groups.

Research highlights: Impacts of shelterwood cut depend on site quality of the stands and time since harvesting occurs. For this, different site quality stands should received differential attention in the development of conservation strategies, as well as variations in the shelterwood implementation (as irregularity and patchiness) should be considered to better promote understory plant species conservation inside managed areas.

Key words: plant species conservation; years after harvesting; forest management; Tierra del Fuego.

Full Text:



Arnott JT, Beese WJ, 1997. Alternatives to clear-cutting in British Columbia coastal montane forests. Forest Chron 73: 670-678.

Barrera MD, Frangi JL, Richter LL, Perdomo MH, Pinedo LB, 2000. Structural and functional changes in Nothofagus pumilio forests along an altitudinal gradient in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. J Veg Sci 11: 179-188.

Brosofske KD, Chen J, Crow TR, 2001. Understory vegetation and site factors: implications for a managed Wisconsin landscape. For Ecol Manage 146, 75-87.

Caldentey J, Ibarra M, Hernández J, 2001. Litter fluxes and decomposition in Nothofagus pumilio stands in the region of Magallanes, Chile. For Ecol Manage 148: 145-157.

Caldentey J, Ibarra M, Promis A, 2005. Microclimatic variations in a Nothofagus pumilio forest caused by shelterwood systems: results of seven years of observations. Int For Rev 7: 46.

Caldentey J, Mayer H, Ibarra M, Promis A, 2009. The effects of a regeneration felling on photosynthetic photon flux density and regeneration growth in a Nothofagus pumilio forest. Eur J For Res 128: 75-84.

Chen J, Franklin JF, Spies TA, 1993. Contrasting microclimates among clear-cut, edge, and interior of old-growth Douglas-fir forest. Agric For Meteorol 63: 219-237.

Correa MN, 1969-1998. Flora Patagónica. Colección Científica INTA Tomo 8. Partes II, III, IVb, V, VI y VII. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ewald J, 2000. Long-term impact of forest pasture on the understorey of mountain forests in the Tegernsee Alps (Bavaria). Z Ökologie u Naturschutz 9: 161-170.

Fitter AH, Hay RKM, 1983. Environmental Physiology of Plants. Academic Press, London, United Kingdom. 355 pp.

Gilliam FS, 2007. The ecological significance of the herbaceous layer in temperate forest ecosystems. Bioscience 57: 845-858.

Haight R, 1995. Comparing extinction risk and economic cost in wildlife conservation planning. Ecol Appl 5(3): 767-775.

Halpern CA, 1989. Early successional patterns of forest species: interactions of life history traits and disturbance. Ecology 70: 704-720.

Halpern CB, McKenzie D, Evans SA, Maguire DA, 2005. Initial responses of forest understories to varying levels and patterns of green-tree retention. Ecol Appl 15: 175-195.

Honnay O, Hermy M, Coppin P, 1999. Nested plant communities in deciduous forest fragments: species relaxation or nested habitats? Oikos 84: 119-129.

Kent M, Coker P, 1992. Vegetation description and analysis: a practical approach. CRC Press-Belhaven Press, London, United Kingdom. 363 pp.

Lencinas MV, Martínez Pastur G, Rivero P, Busso C, 2008a. Conservation value of timber quality versus associated non-timber quality stands for understory diversity in Nothofagus forests. Biodiv Conserv 17: 2579-2597.

Lencinas MV, Martínez Pastur G, Solán R, Gallo E, Cellini JM, 2008b. Forest management with variable retention impact over bryophyte communities of Nothofagus pumilio understory. Forstarchiv 79: 77-82.

Lencinas MV, Martínez Pastur G, Gallo E, Cellini JM, 2009. Alternative silvicultural practices with variable retention improve bird conservation in managed South Patagonian forests. For Ecol Manage 258: 472-480.

Lencinas MV, Martínez Pastur G, Gallo E, Cellini JM, 2011. Alternative silvicultural practices with variable retention to improve understory plant diversity conservation in southern Patagonian forests. For Ecol Manage 262: 1236-1250.

Martínez Pastur G, Peri P, Vukasovic R, Vaccaro S, Piriz Carrillo V, 1997. Site index equation for Nothofagus pumilio Patagonian forest. Phyton 6: 55-60.

Martínez Pastur G, Peri P, Fernández C, Staffieri G, Rodríguez D, 1999. Desarrollo de la regeneración a lo largo del ciclo del manejo forestal de un bosque de Nothofagus pumilio: 2. Incidencia del ramoneo de Lama guanicoe. Bosque 20: 47-53.

Martínez Pastur g, Cellini J, Peri P, Vukasovic R, Fernández C, 2000. Timber production of Nothofagus pumilio forests by a shelterwood system in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). For Ecol Manage 134: 153-162.

Martínez Pastur G, Peri P, Fernández MC, Staff ieri G, Lencinas MV, 2002. Changes in understory species diversity during the Nothofagus pumilio forest management cycle. J For Res 7: 165-174.

Martínez Pastur G, Cellini JM, Peri P, Lencinas MV, Gallo E, Soler Esteban R, 2009. Alternative silviculture with variable retention in timber management of South Patagonia. For Ecol Manage 258: 436-443.

Martínez Pastur G, Peri P, Cellini JM, Lencinas MV, Barrera M, Ivancich H, 2011a. Canopy structure analysis for estimating forest regeneration dynamics and growth in Nothofagus pumilio forests. Ann For Sci 68: 587-594.

Martínez Pastur G, Cellini JM, Lencinas MV, Barrera M, Peri PL, 2011b. Environmental variables influencing regeneration of Nothofagus pumilio in a system with combined aggregated and dispersed retention. For Ecol Manage 261: 178-186.

Martínez Pastur G, Jordán C, Soler Esteban R, Lencinas MV, Ivancich H, Kreps G, 2012. Landscape and microenvironmental conditions influence over regeneration dynamics in old-growth Nothofagus betuloides Southern Patagonian forests. Plant Biosyst 146: 201-213.

McCune B, Mefford MJ, 1999. Multivariate analysis of ecological data. Version 4.0. MjM software. Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USA.

Mitchell SJ, Beese WJ, 2002. The retention system: reconciling variable retention with the principles of silvicultural systems. For Chron 78: 397-403.

Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, Brooks TM, Pilgrim JD, Konstant WR, DA Fonseca GAB, Kormos C, 2003. Wilderness and biodiversity conservation. Proc Nat Academy Sci 100: 10309-10313. PMid:12930898 PMCid:193557.

Moore DM, 1983. Flora of Tierra del Fuego. Missouri Botanical Garden, Anthony Nelson, London, United Kingdom.

Økland R, Rydgren K. Økland T, 1999. Single-tree influence on understorey vegetation in a Norwegian boreal spruce forest. Oikos 87: 488-498.

Ohlson M, Söderström L, Hörnberg G, Zackrisson O, Hermannson J, 1997. Habitat qualities versus long-term continuity as determinants of biodiversity in boreal oldgrowth swamp forest. Biol Conserv 81: 221-231.

Palmer MW, Mcalister SD, Arévalo JR, Decoster JK, 2000. Changes in the understory during 14 years following catastrophic wind-throw in two Minnesota forests. J Veg Sci 11: 841-854.

Poorbabaei H, Poor-Rostam A, 2009. The effect of shelterwood silvicultural method on the plant species diversity in a beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) forest in the north of Iran. J For Sci 55: 387-394.

Quinby PA, 2000. First-year impacts of shelterwood logging on understory vegetation in an old-growth pine stand in central Ontario, Canada. Environ Conserv 27: 229-241.

Rosenfeld JM, Navarro Cerrillo RM, Guzmán Álvarez JR, 2006. Regeneration of Nothofagus pumilio (Poepp. et Endl.) Krasser forests after five years of seed tree cutting. J Env Manage 78: 44-51. PMid:16303235

Ruokolainen L, Salo K, 2006. The succession of boreal forest vegetation during ten years after slash-burning in Koli National Park, eastern Finland. Ann Bot Fennici 43: 363-378.

Schmidt H, Urzúa A, 1982. Transformación y Manejo de los Bosques de Lenga en Magallanes. Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile. Ciencias Agrícolas no.11. 62 pp.

Small CJ, McCarthy BC, 2005. Relationship of understory diversity to soil nitrogen, topographic variation, and stand age in an eastern oak forest, USA. For Ecol Manage 217: 229-243.

Smith KJ, Keeton WS, Twery MJ, Tobi DR, 2008. Understory plant responses to uneven-aged forestry alternatives in northern hardwood-conifer forests. Can J For Res 38: 1303-1318.

Soler Esteban R, Martínez Pastur G, Lencinas MV, Borrelli L, 2012. Differential forage use between large native and domestic herbivores in Southern Patagonian Nothofagus forests. Agrofore Syst 85: 397-409.

Veblen TT, Veblen AT, Schlegel FM, 1979. Understory patterns in mixed evergreen-deciduous Nothofagus forests in Chile. J Ecol 67: 809-823.

Warner JH, Harper KT,1972. Understory characteristics related to site quality for aspen in Utah. Science Bulletin, Biological Series, Volume XVI, no. 2, Brigham Young University, USA.

DOI: 10.5424/fs/2013221-02344