INSTITUTO ARGENTINO DE NIVOLOGIA, GLACIOLOGIA Y CIENCIAS AMBIENTALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Stand development patterns as a consequence of the mortality in Austrocedrus chilensis forests
AMOROSO, MARIANO; LARSON, BRUCE
FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Año: 2010 vol. 259 p. 1981 - 1981
The forests of Austrocedrus chilensis (D.Don) Pic. Sern. et Bizarri in Argentina suffer decline and mortality throughout their natural distribution known as 'mal del ciprés'. While several aspects of this, to date, temporally unpredictable process of overstory tree mortality have been the focus of detailed studies, there has been little research on tree growth and stand dynamics in symptomatic forests nor stand development patterns and prediction of future stand structure. We studied 12 stands in northern Patagonia (Province of Río Negro) using stand reconstruction studies to examine the changes in stand structure over time as a consequence of overstory mortality and the implications of these structural changes on the establishment and growth of the residual overstory. Dendrochronological analyses were used to reconstruct stand establishment and structure over time, and to study past diameter growth patterns. Mortality in A. chilensis forests was variable in time among stands. As expected, overstory mortality led to the successful establishment of trees in the understory in all stands; however, the response of residual overstory trees was variable. Understory establishment was low in some stands and high in others depending on the density of the overstory. While overstory trees in almost all stands released after the onset of the mortality, the pattern was not distinctive, varying in time, number and magnitude. In some stands, growth releases occurred after single or multiple tree deaths suggesting a relationship between processes, while in others this was not the case. Even when the patterns of recruitment in the understory and the overstory response varied greatly among stands, when examined together, some general patterns emerged. This study is the first to intensively explore the dynamics of A. chilensis forests affected by mal del ciprés. Additionally, this study showed that arbitrarily categorizing disturbances as discrete or chronic masks the true process of release of growing space and the resulting stand dynamics.