Structure, development and health status of spruce forests affected by air pollution in the western Krkonoše Mts. in 1979–2014

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Abstract

The structure and health status of waterlogged or peaty spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) forests in the summit parts of the Krkonoše Mts. in the Czech Republic were studied in 1979–2014. The objective was to evaluate the stand structure, dead wood, trend of the health status and productivity on four permanent research plots (PRP) in relation to air pollution (SO2 and NOx concentrations) and climatic conditions (temperatures and precipitation amounts). Stand structure was evaluated on the base of the measured parameters of individual trees on PRP. The health status of trees was evaluated according to foliage, and their vitality was assessed according to their radial growth documented by dendrochronological analyses. The radial growth was negatively correlated with SO2 and NOx concentrations. Stand dynamics during the observation period was characterised by increased tree mortality, the presence of dead wood and reduction of stand density from 1983 to 1992, while the most severe impairment of health status and stand stability occurred in 1982–1987. The foliage mass of living trees has been gradually increasing since 1988, but no pronounced improvement of tree vitality was documented after the decrease in SO2 concentration. However, particularly physiologically weakened spruce trees were attacked by the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). The process of forest damage is manifested not only by foliage reduction but also by symptoms of various necroses on the assimilatory organs. In terms of climatic data, the weather in April had the most important effect on radial growth. Diameter increment showed positive statistically significant correlation with temperature in growing season, but the precipitation effect was low.

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Central European Forestry Journal

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