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Popular Science: What was the original forest composition in the Bohemian/Bavarian Forest?

Pollen diagrams give us information on how long-term vegetation has developed in a particular area. The first diagram of the Bohemian/Bavarian Forest was published in 1927 and represented one of the first qualitative views on the vegetation development in this area. Today there are quantitative models of vegetation reconstruction based on pollen records, which are already methodologically advanced and form the basis for conservation and restoration ecology. In the Bohemian/Bavarian Forest, forest managers aiming at restoring the original forest structure rely on maps of natural potential vegetation that do not consider long-term dynamics of forest composition. Therefore, a group of scientists from the Department of Botany of the Faculty of Science, Charles University, the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic, the Czech University of Life Sciences and their colleagues from Great Britain and Switzerland tempted to analyse the long-term forest dynamics in this area.

Researchers focused on the dynamics of forest species composition at high- (over 900 m) and mid-elevations (700 - 900 m) during the Holocene, about the last ten thousand years. For the reconstruction of past vegetation, they have used a model that includes variables such as the pollen production rate of individual plant species, the pollen dispersal capacity and the factors affecting its dispersal – the size and type of the sedimentation basin. In addition, they used pollen data. Newly analysed pollen data came from the Prášilské jezero and Rachelsee, supplemented by data from previously analysed mires and lakes.

Rachelsee, source:  Petr Znachor

The results of the study showed that a given locality was dominated by spruce in the mid-elevations all over the Holocene, where beech and fir were thought to be predominant. Beech and fir were represented most abundantly about 2000 years ago by a total of 37%, while spruce was represented by 40%. Currently, the management is targeting for a beech forest with spruce as a secondary tree species. The authors suggest that 45% of the spruce should be represented in mid-elevation forest stands. At the same time, they stress the possible impact of climate change, which could cause a further decline in the spruce range, and therefore steps should now be taken to protect it.

Let us hope that paleoecological research will no longer be overlooked, but will be taken into account in the management of important natural sites, such as the Bohemian/Bavarian Forest.

Carter VA, Chiverrell RC, Clear JL, Kuosmanen N, Moravcová A, Svoboda M, Svobodová-Svitavská H, van Leeuwen JFN, van der Knaap WO and Kuneš P (2018) Quantitative Palynology Informing Conservation Ecology in the Bohemian/Bavarian Forests of Central Europe. Front. Plant Sci. 8:2268. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.02268

Radka Zelená

Published: Nov 05, 2018 09:15 AM

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