Laboratory of Computational Ecology

Dynamics of ecosystem processes after local and mass windthrows in the broad-leaved forests. Project of RFBR # 20-04-00733.


     Windthrows in broad-leaved (temperate deciduous, nemoral) plain forests are poorly studied, probably due to the relative rarity of these forests at present. However, under conditions of climate warming, the area of broad-leaved forests can significantly increase, which determines the particular importance and relevance of their study.
     Estimates of contributions of windthrows and dead woods to the overall carbon balance, to the cycle of chemical elements are very contradictory; additional detailed studies are necessary, especially in connection with the forecast and assessment of the ways of implementation of the ecosystem functions of forests with and without spontaneous dynamics.
     The project is aimed at testing the following scientific idea: windthrows producing deadwood and pit-and-mound topography (caused by treefalls with uprooting) are important agents of the functioning of ecosystems in the temperate forest region: they increase biodiversity, the intensity of the element cycles in the ecosystems and the nutrients supply in the soil.
     The aim of the project is to assess the dynamics of vegetation, the rate of decomposition of dead woods and changes in the deadwood and soil characteristics after mass and local windthrows in the nemoral forest region.
     The study will be conducted in the Kaluzhskie Zaseki Reserve, the uniqueness of which is determined by the presence of old-growth multi-species broad-leaved forests with a high level of biodiversity and the presence of uneven-aged local windfalls and the mass windthrow occurred in 2006.
     For the first time in natural conditions of broad-leaved deciduous forest, the decomposition rates of coarse woody debris (CWD) of eight tree species (Quercus robur, Fraxinus excelsior, Ulmus glabra, Tilia cordata, Acer platanoides, Betula pendula, Populus tremula, and Picea abies) will be evaluated and analyzed on dated sites. Changes in the nutrients (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium) during the trunk decomposition for the listed species will be also estimated. Effects of species, size class of trunks, period of time since the moment of the treefall and the stage of decomposition on the nutrients in the deadwood will be analyzed. Unique studies will be conducted to analyze changes in the chemical and microbial characteristics of soils beneath the CWD of different species compared to the reference sites, both located in mass windthrow areas on fluvio-glacial sands and cover loams. Xylotrophic macromycetes which are one of the important agents for dead wood biodegradation will also be investigated.
     The influence of local and mass windthrows on vegetation in different types of ecotope (on sands and loams) will be assessed as analysis of the dynamics of (i) the structure and composition of vascular plant species located on the CWD and elements of the pit-and-mound topography and (2) the composition of undergrowth on continuous plots which we established in 2010 in areas of mass windthrow.
     In general, to be received fundamentally new knowledge about changes in different components of the ecosystem after windthrows necessary both for understanding the patterns of ecosystem processes, and to develop a sustainable strategy for the conservation and use of biological diversity and implementation of all ecosystem functions of forests.