HUERTAS HERRERA Alejandro
Conservation values of understory vascular plants in even- and uneven-aged Nothofagus antarctica forests
MARTÍNEZ PASTUR, GUILLERMO J.; ROSAS, YAMINA M.; CELLINI, JUAN M.; BARRERA, MARCELO D.; TORO MANRÍQUEZ, MÓNICA DR; HUERTAS HERRERA, ALEJANDRO; FAVORETTI BONDAR, SANTIAGO; LENCINAS, MARÍA V.; PERI, PABLO L.
BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION
Usually, stands with aging trees are considered forests with higher conservation values, regardless their structural diversity and other functional attributes. Natural stands present a wide range of age structures, from even-aged stands growing at different development growth phases (e.g. CO = stands at initial or final optimum development growth phase, MD = stands at mature or decaying development growth phases) to uneven-aged stands with mixed development growth phases (e.g. UOG = stands combining mature or decaying development growth phases with initial or final optimum development growth phases, UMD = stands combining only mature and decaying development growth phases). The aim of this work was to compare richness and cover of understory vascular plants of even- and uneven-aged stands of Nothofagus antarctica (ñire) forests in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), and relate these characteristics with abiotic, soil and forest structure variables. A total of 75 stands were sampled across the natural range distribution of the forests, where understory (point intercept method), forest structure (angle count sampling and eye-fish photos) and environmental (soil) variables were measured. 17 one-way ANOVAs were conducted using Tukey test at p < 0.05 to compare the means. Among forest structure and environmental variables, cover (F = 4.3, p = 0.007), radiation (F = 4.4, p = 0.006), phosphorous (F = 3.9, p = 0.012), tree density (F = 10.3, p < 0.001), tree diameter (F = 10.3, p < 0.001) and stand growth (F = 4.9, p = 0.004) showed significant differences, and in general with a positive or negative trend across the MD?UMD?UOG?CO gradient. Total (F = 6.5, p < 0.001) and native species richness of the understory (F = 7.2, p < 0.001) were significantly different among forest types, where UMD > UOG > MD > CO (17?28 total, and 13?24 native species, respectively). Neither exotic species richness (4?5 species) nor understory cover significantly changed among treatments (total, dicots, ferns and bryophytes). However, monocots cover significantly differed among treatments (F = 3.9, p = 0.012), where UMD > MD > UOG > CO. Finally, indicator species cover for environmental degradation did not present significant differences (F = 2.1, p = 0.106), but they were positive related to forests growing in mature stages. We concluded that uneven-aged stands presented significantly higher conservation values compared to even-aged stands, where mature/decay stands have better conservation values than optimum growth development phases. These findings can be used for better silviculture practices that combine silvopastoral use and conservation strategies.