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The effects of gap size on some microclimate variables during late summer and autumn in a temperate broadleaved deciduous forest.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2010
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Journal number2
Volume54
Number of pages11
Pages119-129
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The creation of gaps can strongly influence forest regeneration and habitat diversity within forest ecosystems. However, the precise characteristics of such effects depend, to a large extent, upon the way in which gaps modify microclimate and soil water content. Hence, the aim of this study was to understand the effects of gap creation and variations in gap size on forest microclimate and soil water content. The study site, in North West England, was a mixed temperate broadleaved deciduous forest dominated by mature sessile oak (Quercus petraea), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with some representatives of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). Solar radiation (I), air temperature (T (A)), soil temperature (T (S)), relative humidity (h), wind speed (v) and soil water content (I) were measured at four natural treefall gaps created after a severe storm in 2006 and adjacent sub-canopy sites. I, T (A), T (S), and I increased significantly with gap size; h was consistently lower in gaps than the sub-canopy but did not vary with gap size, while the variability of v could not be explained by the presence or size of gaps. There were systematic diurnal patterns in all microclimate variables in response to gaps, but no such patterns existed for I. These results further our understanding of the abiotic and consequent biotic responses to gaps in broadleaved deciduous forests created by natural treefalls, and provide a useful basis for evaluating the implications of forest management practices.