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Understanding the dominance of beech trees in the primeval forest of Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh


Beech forests provide important ecosystem services. In the primeval forest of Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh, 97% of the tree layer is composed of beech. The reasons for this extremely pronounced dominance are examined in this project.


According to the results of the sample plot inventory carried out in 2010, beech makes up 97% of the number of trees in the primeval forest of Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh. There are various plausible explanations for this dominance. However, it remains unclear as to which extent each factor contributes toward this phenomenon. Some hypotheses explain the dominance by pointing out the differences between beech and its competitors including sycamore maple, Norway maple, Scots elm and silver fir regarding shade tolerance, seed dispersal, the effect of foliage as an establishment obstacle, requirements of soil properties as well as browsing tolerance.


Beech are some of the most common tree species in Europe, and beech forests provide a wide range of important ecosystem services. Climate change compromises these services. Within 100 years, central European beech forests could experience a significant decrease in area. Another reason for the ample spread of beech trees is that humans may have promoted their distribution. These hypotheses will be tested by means of research into the spatial distribution of juvenile and adult individuals of beech and admixed tree species in their relation to gaps, growth ring analyses as well as sowing experiments. The 10 ha permanent plot in Uholka, which has been studied since 2000 and a repetition of the sample plot inventory which will be carried out in 2019, serves as the basis for this research. The gap patterns throughout the area will also be detected using a vegetation height model. Other selected areas in Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh will also be included in the research, especially where other tree species occur more frequently.

Furthermore, the 5th repetition inventory of the 10 ha permanent plot will be carried out in 2020. This will allow small-scale development dynamics on the level of individual gaps to be characterized and possible trends of the tree species composition to be identified.