Linking forest diversity and tree health: preliminary insights from a large-scale survey in Italy

Filippo Bussotti, Matteo Feducci, Giovanni Iacopetti, Filomena Maggino, Martina Pollastrini, Federico Selvi
2018 Forest Ecosystems  
Forest health is currently assessed in Europe (ICP Forests monitoring program). Crown defoliation and dieback, tree mortality, and pathogenic damage are the main aspects considered in tree health assessment. The worsening of environmental conditions (i.e., increase of temperature and drought events) may cause large-spatial scale tree mortality and forest decline. However, the role of stand features, including tree species assemblage and diversity as factors that modify environmental impacts, is
more » ... poorly considered. The present contribution reanalyses the historical dataset of crown conditions in Italian forests from 1997 to 2014 to identify ecological and structural factors that influence tree crown defoliation, highlighting in a special manner the role of tree diversity. The effects of tree diversity were explored using the entire data set through multivariate cluster analyses and on individual trees, analysing the influence of the neighbouring tree diversity and identity at the local (neighbour) level. Preliminary results suggest that each tree species shows a specific behaviour in relation to crown defoliation, and the distribution of crown defoliation across Italian forests reflects the distribution of the main forest types and their ecological equilibrium with the environment. The potentiality and the problems connected to the possible extension of this analysis at a more general level (European and North American) were discussed.
doi:10.1186/s40663-018-0130-6 fatcat:ttigwxujvbcplkodfc77ubtv34