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Title: Quantifying the effect of sampling plot size on the estimation of structural indicators in old-growth forest stands
Authors: Lombardi, Fabio
Corona, Piermaria
Marchetti, Marco
Merlini, Paolo
Chirici, Gherardo
Tognetti, Roberto
Burrascano, Sabina
Alivernini, Alessandro
Puletti, Nicola
Keywords: Forest structure;Deadwood;Survey simulation;Beech forests;Italy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Elsevier
Source: Lombardi, F. et al. 2015. Quantifying the effect of sampling plot size on the estimation of structural indicators in old-growth forest stands. "Forest Ecology and Management" 346: 89–97
There is increasing awareness that structure-based indicators should be considered for assessing the biological value of late successional forests. In order to increase the unique habitat features critical for
old-growth associated species, it is important to identify and rank candidate potential forest sites on the basis of their distinctive structural features. Data on living and deadwood components for the identification of old-growth condition are usually acquired in the considered forest stands by two sampling survey: (i) census performed in relatively large monitoring sites; (ii) network of small sampling units,
on which inventory practices are usually based. Several authors argued that choosing between these survey strategies might have substantial effects on the values of common indicators of old-growth condition.
Our study aims at (i) assessing the total estimate differences among old-growth structural indicators measured in field plots with different sizes, and (ii) defining the optimal sample size for the reliable
assessment of such indicators. The study was carried out in six beech dominated forest stands on the Apennines range in Italy. In each stand, living and deadwood components were surveyed and geocoded in 1-ha square areas. Based on these dataset, circular plots with radii ranging from 4 m up to 20 m were
then considered in order to quantify the effect of sampling plot size on the estimation of four structural indicators: (1) number of living trees; (2) number of large trees (dbhP50 cm); (3) total deadwood volume;
(4) number of deadwood elements (snags, dead standing trees; lying dead trees, lying deadwood)with dbh (or average diameter for lying deadwood)P30 cm. We found that the size of the sampling plots should be at least 500 m2 in order to establish a database for the assessment of the investigated indicators.
The census approach should be preferred to the sampling plot approach for old-growth forest stands smaller than 3–5 ha. The achieved results contribute to define assessment protocols for characterizing and ranking the degree to which forest stands approximate old-growth condition based on standardized indicators.
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ISSN: 0378-1127
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.02.011
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