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

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Kulha , N , Pasanen , L , Holmström , L , Grandpre , L D , Gauthier , S , Kuuluvainen , T & Aakala , T 2020 , ' The structure of boreal old-growth forests changes at multiple spatial scales over decades ' , Landscape Ecology , vol. 35 , no. 4 , pp. 843-858 .

Title: The structure of boreal old-growth forests changes at multiple spatial scales over decades
Author: Kulha, Niko; Pasanen, Leena; Holmström, Lasse; Grandpre, Louis de; Gauthier, Sylvie; Kuuluvainen, Timo; Aakala, Tuomas
Contributor organization: Boreal forest dynamics and biodiversity research group
Department of Forest Sciences
Forest Economics, Business and Society
Date: 2020-04
Language: eng
Number of pages: 16
Belongs to series: Landscape Ecology
ISSN: 0921-2973
Abstract: 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.
Subject: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
4112 Forestry
Aerial photography
Bayesian inference
Canopy cover
Northeastern North America
Forest dynamics
Northern Fennoscandia
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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