Spatial and compositional structure of European oak urban forests in Kyiv city, Ukraine

Matsala M., Bilous A., Feshchenko R., Matiashuk R., Bilous S., Kovbasa Y. (2021): Spatial and compositional structure of European oak urban forests in Kyiv city, Ukraine. J. For. Sci., 67: 143–153.

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Forest dimensional structure and tree species composition strictly define ecosystem resilience, success of its functioning and development. Spatial structure of forest compartments provides an additional information on the forest stand heterogeneity. The aim of this study is to examine structural patterns (both spatial and nonspatial ones) in European oak (Quercus robur L.) urban forests located in Kyiv city, Ukraine. We compared two middle-aged (~ 80 years) and two mature (~ 180 years) oak stands in terms of structural metrics collecting a data from geo-referenced trees on the established permanent sample plots. Younger stands reached similar tree diameter diversity (9.07 and 10.45 vs. 11.42 and 14.05 of Shannon indices), while the compositional diversity was driven by the dominance of either oak or European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.). We have not found any differences in the species mingling and deadwood distribution indices except a clear occurrence pattern for the stand located near roads. Herewith, the largest distance between the plot and park pathways was an indicator of changed spatial variation and tree dimensional differentiation within one middle-aged stand. We hypothesize that human impacts can alter structural development in urban deciduous forests providing both positive (gap formation, deadwood occurrence and ecosystem complexity) and negative (shifts in compositional and successional trajectories) effects on such forest stands.

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