Soil

The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as the natural medium for the growth of land plant ( SAF dictionary, 2008).

Biodiversity and the resistance of forest ecosystems to drought

The extreme events induced by climate change will have drastic consequences on forest functions and services and may bring about important drought-induced die-off events. It is known, however, that biodiversity can promote forest ecosystem performance and resistance to insect pests and diseases. Promoting higher tree species richness in temperate forests is also suggested to be an appropriate management practice to be considered in the context of increased drought frequency and intensity in the future. Indeed, interactions among species may lead to positive complementarity effects of...

Impacts of species diversity on root systems

Trees need root systems for anchorage and for water and nutrient uptake. Root systems consist of stumps, coarse roots and fine roots.  Coarse roots have diameter larger than 2 mm, and fine roots less than 2 mm. Stumps and coarse roots are needed for anchorage and transportation of water and nutrients and their lifespan is long. Fine roots are short living and they take up water and nutrients from soil. In most forests there are in addition to trees also other plants growing in understory. Their roots are mostly fine, less than 2 mm in diameter. The tops of trees can reach the height of...

Dead wood and nitrogen stocks: the older, the richer

Dead wood (dead trees, branches, stumps and roots in all stages of decay process) plays an important role in element cycling (carbon, nitrogen, water, etc.) and builds-up forest nutrient stocks. Dead wood is also an essential structural component of forests, providing habitat for large variety of organisms with often highly specialized habitat requirements (e.g. xylobiontic beetles). Organisms inhabiting dead wood cause change in wood quality (its structure, chemical composition and density) preparing substrate for consecutive steps of ecological succession. Speed of this change depends...

The understorey, a forest layer with an underestimated importance for ecosystem functioning

The major forest types in Europe, from the Boreal to the Mediterranean region, all include a variable number of native vascular plant species in the understorey layer (1.3 m height), both herbaceous and woody. In spite of its small stature and biomass this layer can contain 90% or more of the plant species of the forest. The functional role of the understory vegetation has already been shown in previous studies on temperate forests. They can serve as: ...
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