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The legacy of forest disturbance on stream ecosystem functioning

Frainer, Andre and Mckie, Brendan (2021). The legacy of forest disturbance on stream ecosystem functioning. Journal of Applied Ecology. 58 , 1511-1522
[Research article]

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1. Forest clearance is a pervasive disturbance worldwide, but many of its impacts are regarded as transient, diminishing in intensity as forest recovers. However, forests can take decades to centuries to recover after severe disturbances, and temporal lags in recovery of ecosystem properties for different forest habitats are mostly unknown. This includes forest streams, where most studies of the impacts of forest clearance are restricted to the first years of recovery, typically finding that temporary increases in light and nutrient run-off diminish as forest recovers. Implications of longer term changes remain little investigated.2. In a space-for-time substitution experiment, we assessed changes in organic matter processing and in the functional and taxonomic composition of litter-consuming detritivores along a riparian forest age gradient ranging from 1 to 120 years since last timber harvesting.3. Variation in organic matter processing and detritivore functional diversity along the forest succession gradient were both expressed as second-order polynomial relationships (peaking at similar to 50 years along the forest age gradient). Decomposition rates were lowest in both the more recently clear-cut and older riparian forest streams.4. Variation of litter decomposition rates among litter bags within streams, measured by the coefficient of variation, was lowest in recent clear-cuts and increased linearly along the succession gradient. This result indicates higher within-stream heterogeneity in decomposition rates in older forest streams.5. Synthesis and applications. We found that the decomposition of leaf litter, a component of carbon cycling in forests, was higher in streams flowing through intermediately aged forest, and that several key attributes of the organisms regulating litter decomposition also varied systematically with forest age. These findings highlight the longer term consequences of forest succession following forest clear-cutting for stream habitats. Our findings further illustrate complications arising from the use of forested sites as references for newly cleared sites without properly accounting for forest age, given conclusions regarding biotic responses will depend on the age of the reference forests. Finally, our results emphasise the potential of intensive forest management centred on vast, one-time clear-cutting events to drive long-term homogenisation not only in forest age structure but also in the functioning of associated forest stream habitats..

Authors/Creators:Frainer, Andre and Mckie, Brendan
Title:The legacy of forest disturbance on stream ecosystem functioning
Series Name/Journal:Journal of Applied Ecology
Year of publishing :2021
Page range:1511-1522
Number of Pages:12
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:clear-cutting, detritivores, disturbance legacy, forest succession, forestry, functional diversity, litter decomposition, space-for-time substitution
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Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000652196400001
ID Code:24979
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:23 Aug 2021 09:25
Metadata Last Modified:23 Aug 2021 09:31

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