Research on urban climates has been an important topic in recent years, given the growing number of city inhabitants and significant influences of climate on health. Nevertheless, far less research has focused on the impacts of light pollution, not only on humans, but also on plants and animals in the landscape. This paper reports a study measuring the intensity of light pollution and its impact on the autumn phenological phases of tree species in the town of Zvolen (Slovakia). The research was carried out at two housing estates and in the central part of the town in the period 2013–2016. The intensity of ambient nocturnal light at 18 measurement points was greater under cloudy weather than in clear weather conditions. Comparison with the ecological standard for Slovakia showed that average night light values in the town centre and in the housing estate with an older type of public lighting, exceeded the threshold value by 5 lux. Two tree species, sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus L.) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina L.), demonstrated sensitivity to light pollution. The average onset of the autumn phenophases in the crown parts situated next to the light sources was delayed by 13 to 22 days, and their duration was prolonged by 6 to 9 days. There are three major results: (i) the effects of light pollution on organisms in the urban environment are documented; (ii) the results provide support for a theoretical and practical basis for better urban planning policies to mitigate light pollution effects on organisms; and (iii) some limits of the use of plant phenology as a bioindicator of climate change are presented.
The paper presents relationship between the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) and physiological responses of individual trees in a beech stand using an example of an experimental plot in Bienska valley (Zvolen, Slovakia). SPI is a widely used tool for monitoring both short-term and long-term droughts, and for the assessments of drought impacts on agriculture. Due to the complex ecosystem bonds, monitoring of drought in forests often requires a sophisticated technological approach. The aim of the paper was to correlate the SPI on the physiological responses of trees that were recorded during the performed physiological research (sap flow, and stem circumference increment) at the site in the growing seasons (May to September) of the years 2012-2014. The results revealed a relationship between the index and the physiological responses, although the problem with the impact of other environmental factors has also come up. The secondary correlation, in which soil water potential that significantly affects physiological responses of forest tree species was used as a dependent variable, showed a tighter relationship with the SPI. We found the highest correlation between the soil water potential and the values of SPI aggregated for five weeks. This indicates that the beech forest has a five week resistance to drought stress. The results also enable simple monitoring of the initiation of the drought stress by applying SPI for five weeks.
In this study we analyzed the effect of selected biometeorological variables on the onset of phenophases in three beech stands in different climatic areas (warm, moderately warm and cold). We have focused on two phenophases - leaf unfolding and leaf colouring. Timing of both phenophases was identified visually and using series of MODIS satellite images. The data were collected during a 13-year period (2000-2012). For the spring period, we found a significant dependence between temperature and precipitation-based biometeorological variables and leaf unfolding in both datasets - those based on visual and remote sensing-based observations. The average air temperature in the period from February-April was the most significant factor which initiated the onset of beginning of leaf unfolding in all three investigated stands. The evapotranspiration-based biometeorological variables (climatic water balance, actual evapotranspiration, dryness index) had no effect on the onset of the beginning of leaf unfolding observed using both methods. The high precipitation totals in April caused the later onset of leaf unfolding in all stands. The relationship between the first autumn phenophase - leaf colouring and biometeorological variables was found significant in beech stand in the warm climatic area only.
Large-scale forest dieback was reported in recent decades in many parts of the world. In Slovakia, the most endangered species is Norway spruce (Picea Abies). Spruce dieback affects also indigenous mountain forests. We analysed changes in snow cover characteristics in the disturbed spruce forest representing the tree line zone (1420 m a.s.l.) in the Western Tatra Mountains, Slovakia, in five winter seasons 2013-2017. Snow depth, density and water equivalent (SWE) were measured biweekly (10-12 times per winter) at four sites representing the living forest (Living), disturbed forest with dead trees (Dead), forest opening (Open) and large open area outside the forest (Meadow). The data confirmed statistically significant differences in snow depth between the living and disturbed forest. These differences increased since the third winter after forest dieback. The differences in snow density between the disturbed and living forest were in most cases not significant. Variability of snow density expressed by coefficient of variation was approximately half that of the snow depth. Forest dieback resulted in a significant increase (about 25%) of the water amount stored in the snow while the snowmelt characteristics (snowmelt beginning and time of snow disappearance) did not change much. Average SWE calculated for all measurements conducted during five winters increased in the sequence Living < Dead < Meadow < Open. SWE variability expressed by the coefficient of variation increased in the opposite order.
The paper evaluates the results of a 6-year-monitoring of the eco-hydrological influence of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and European beech (Fagus silvatica L.) forest stands on the hydro-physical properties of snow cover. The experiment was carried out in the artificially regenerated 20-25-year-old forest stands approaching the pole timber stage in the middle mountain region of the Polana Mts. - Biosphere reserve situated at about 600 m a.s.l. during the period of maximum snow supply in winters of years 2004 - -2009. Forest canopy plays a decisive role at both the snow cover duration and spring snow melting and runoff generation. A spruce stand is the poorest of snow at the beginning of winter. High interception of spruce canopy hampers the throughfall of snow to soil. During the same period, the soil surface of a beech stand accumulates greater amount of snow. However, a spruce stand accumulates snow by creating snow heaps during the periods of maximum snow cumulation and stand´s microclimate slows down snow melting. These processes are in detail discussed in the paper. The forest stands of the whole biosphere reserve slow down to a significant extent both the snow cover melting and the spring runoff of the whole watershed.
After the windstorm of November 2004, the ground beetle assemblages (Coleoptera, Carabidae) differentiated after the windstorm into four groups reflecting degree of damaging and forestry management (intact stand, fallen timber in situ, extracted timber, fire). The stand with fallen timber reduced abundances of original species. Removal of timber eliminated sensitive forest species and favored tolerant species, whereas the fire allowed invasions of field species. Later, the assemblages on burned sites converged to those in the unburned sites. Their restoration has a sigmoid-like course. Independently on the above differentiation and course assemblage succession, episodes of severe drought resulted with a 1-2-years delay in sudden decline of number of individuals and species. Their numbers were restoring after longer humid periods. Because these extremes occur with a considerable regularity, the observed extremes of fluctuations of number of species and individuals represent the variability limits of the Carabid assemblages in such conditions. The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index was shown, using the cross-correlation of SPEI and number of individuals and species of Carabids, as a suitable means to explain and predict such changes for the period of 1-2 years.
The aim of this work was to assess how forest ecosystems dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) or European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) affect snow water equivalent (SWE) in relation to aspect and elevation. The research plots were established in a small headwater watershed of the Hučava flow belonging to the Poľana Biosphere Reserve (Central Europe, Inner Western Carpathians). The SWE values in this watershed (approximately 580–1270 m a.s.l.) were monitored during the three winter seasons starting from 2012–2013 to 2014–2015. The results revealed high variability in SWE and in snow cover duration between the studied seasons. The spatial variability was significantly affected by the forest ecosystem, aspect and elevation. The seasonal mean SWE value was lower by about 50–60% in the spruce forests and by about 21–30% in the beech forests compared to the open areas (100%). Over the whole seasons, the whole watershed mean SWE value on the slopes with the northern aspect was mostly higher compared to the slopes with the southern aspect. The effect of aspect was significant mainly in the open areas and in the forests dominated by European beech during the ablation periods of every season. In the case of the sufficient snow cover, the mean SWE value always increased with elevation. The elevation gradient of SWE was steepest at the open areas of the watershed in the peaks of the winter seasons. The three-season mean value of SWE elevation gradient (per 100 m) at the time of snow accumulation peak was equal to 16 mm in the spruce forests, 20 mm in the beech forests and 26 mm in the open areas. The research revealed that SWE is significantly affected by the forest ecosystem whilst its effect is dependent on the occurrence of dominant deciduous or coniferous tree species. However, the effect of forests is closely related to topographic characteristics (aspect and elevation) of a locality.
Snow production results in high volume of snow that is remaining on the low-elevation ski pistes after snowmelt of natural snow on the off-piste sites. The aim of this study was to identify snow/ice depth, snow density, and snow water equivalent of remaining ski piste snowpack to calculate and to compare snow ablation water volume with potential infiltration on the ski piste area at South-Central Slovak ski center Košútka (Inner Western Carpathians; temperate zone). Snow ablation water volume was calculated from manual snow depth and density measurements, which were performed at the end of five winter seasons 2010–2011 to 2015–2016, except for season 2013–2014. The laser diffraction analyzes were carried out to identify soil grain size and subsequently the hydraulic conductivity of soil to calculate the infiltration. The average rate of water movement through soil was seven times as high as five seasons’ average ablation rate of ski piste snowpack; nevertheless, the ski piste area was potentially able to infiltrate only 47% of snow ablation water volume on average. Limitation for infiltration was frozen soil and ice layers below the ski piste snowpack and low snow-free area at the beginning of the studied ablation period.