European beech forests

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#1)  European beech forests

Postby KoutaR » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:07 am

ENTS,

We had a discussion on understories of European and American beech forests here:

viewtopic.php?f=198&t=1637

I post here my photos from some forests dominated by European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and located in different parts of its natural range. This photo journey is, of course, very incomplete. Communities may vary much and the forest types in the photos are not only ones in the localities. It would be great if one or some of American ENTS made similar composition of forest interiors dominated by American beech (F. grandifolia).

European beech is a very important tree species in Europe. Without human impact, most of Central Europe would be dominated by beech. Reasons for its extraordinary role include its wide climatic, edaphic and shade tolerances and longevity. Natural stands dominated by other tree species are restricted to extreme sites (e.g. wet, dry or cold) outside of their growth optimum, where beech is unable to form a closed canopy. South from the Alps, the natural area extends to the mountains of the Mediterranean, Balkan and West Asian mountains, in Sicily up to 2250 meters (7380 ft).

As the photos show, forests dominated by European beech have rather uniform apperarance. In the southern high altitude sites, annual precipitation is higher and there is more moss on the trunks.

The first site is Høje Møn on the eastern coast of Denmark immediately behind more than 300 ft high chalk bluff rising directly from the Baltic sea. The forest is not old.

               
                       
HoejeMoenFagus_forest.jpg
                                       
               



There are as tall chalk cliffs also in Jasmund National Park, northeastern German coast, pictured below.

               
                       
Jasmund-cliff.jpg
                                       
               



The second beech forest site, a small old-growth patch, is close to the cliffs above. Elevation is 120 m (400 ft) and annual precipitation 800 mm (31 in). The understory mainly consists of grasses.

               
                       
Jasmund-forest.jpg
                                       
               



The third site is already familiar to the ENTS. It is Heilige Hallen Nature Reserve, northern Germany, where Jeroen and I measured beeches last May. There has been no wood cutting since 1850, but some dead wood use until 1950. Of the three tall trees in the photo, the rightmost one is 43 m (141 ft) tall and the middle one 42 m (138 ft).

               
                       
HHallen-forest3.jpg
                                       
               



The fourth site is Hainich National Park in central Germany, also familiar to the ENTS from Doug's report. This forest has had human use in the past but is untouched since WWII. These forests belong to the richest beech forest communities in Central Europe growing on fertile lime rich soil. Annual precipitation is 750 mm (30 in).

In the photo below there is an understory of Allium ursinum. At least two rough barked European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) trees can be seen. Elevation is 420 m (1380 ft).

               
                       
HainichFagus-Allium_forest.jpg
                                       
               



The next photo is also from Hainich N. P. It shows a site at 340 m (1120 ft) with an Anemone nemorosa understory.

               
                       
HainichFagus-Anemone_forest.jpg
                                       
               



The fifth site is nearly untouched forest in Stužica National Nature Reserve, eastern Slovakia. Elevation is 750 m (2460 ft) and annual precipitation 850–1000 mm (33-39 in). In the foreground there is a canopy gap left by a fallen tree and filled by low shrubs, e.g. Rubus, and beech and European silver fir (Abies alba) seedlings.

               
                       
Stuzica-forest2.jpg
                                       
               



The sixth site is in Pyrénées National Park, southern France, at an elevation of about 1400 m (4600 ft). The conifers in the left are European silver firs (Abies alba). This forest is not old.

               
                       
PyreneesFagus-Abies_forest.jpg
                                       
               



The landskapes in the Pyrenees are truly stunning. See e.g.:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... Ordesa.JPG

The seventh site is in Abruzzo National Park, central Italy, at an elevation of 1350 m (4430 ft) on an eastern slope. Precipitation is 2500-3000 mm (100-120 in) with late summer minimum. The geology is calcareous. The rough-barked tree in the foreground is Italian maple (Acer opalus). The forest is not old.

               
                       
AbruzzoFagus_forest1.jpg
                                       
               



The next photo is also from Abruzzo National Park, at an elevation of about 1500 m (4900 ft) on a northern slope. In this part of the park, selective logging is still in place. The herb in the understory is Cardamine kitaibelii.

               
                       
AbruzzoFagus_forest2.jpg
                                       
               



The eight site is old-growth forest in Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro. Elevation is 1130 m (3710 ft) and annual precipitation 2200 mm (87 in) with spring and fall maximums. There are mainly grasses in the understory of this stand.

               
                       
BiogradskaFagus_sylvatica.jpg
                                       
               



The ninth site is nearly undisturbed forest, Crna Poda in Durmitor National Park. Crna Poda (elev. 840–940 meters (2760-3080 ft) is a terrace formed in the middle of a very steep slope of Tara Canyon. Level terrain has allowed deep soil to accumulate and European black pine (Pinus nigra), which otherwise grows stunted on steep slopes, has formed a fantastic forest. In recent years beech has invaded the forest, preventing pine regeneration. Understory consists of beech and maple (A. pseudoplatanus and A. platanoides) seedlings and various herbs, eg. Galium and Oxalis, and grasses. The tree in the foreground is European ash (Fraxinus excelsior).

               
                       
DurmitorFraxinus_excelsior.jpg
                                       
               



Below a European black pine in the same forest:

               
                       
DurmitorPinus_nigra.jpg
                                       
               



The last site is nearly undisturbed forest on a lower northern slope of Alborz Mountains, northern Iran. Annual precipitation is about 1200 mm (47 in). These beeches belong to a different subspecies, oriental beech (F. sylvatica subsp. orientalis), also considered a different species (F. orientalis) by some authors. Unfortunately the photo is of very poor quality, but ~bare litter layer can be seen.

               
                       
Fagus_orientalis.jpg
                                       
               


Kouta

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James Parton, Jess Riddle, Rand
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#2)  Re: European beech forests

Postby James Parton » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:02 pm

Kouta,

Awesome photos!  I need to get out and do some studies on American Beech in my area.
James E Parton
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#3)  Re: European beech forests

Postby Josh Kelly » Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:38 am

Kouta,

Super sweet post.  I enjoyed the images and site information.  It seems like when herbs are present they are nearly as monocultural in the herb layer as beech is in the canopy.

Thanks,
Josh
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#4)  Re: European beech forests

Postby dbhguru » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:48 am

Kouta,

  You've hit another home run. Most of us on this side of the pond have a long standing curiosity about European forests, as opposed to single large trees. You have gone a long way toward opening us up to what Europe can grow in the way of forests. The early forests of Europe must have been really something.

Bob
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#5)  Re: European beech forests

Postby Lee Frelich » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:26 am

Kouta:

Great post. I should try to visit a variety of these forests next time I am in Europe.

My comments about forests 3 and 4 are that they look like a classic grazing lawn, where one species of short stature takes over in areas with high levels of deer grazing for at least several decades. There are certain species of grass and especially sedges that deer don't like due to silica spicules on the leaves, and at least on this continent, they don't like Allium at all.

I also liked your classification of forests in the previous posting.

Regarding native earthworms in the U.S., they live in the southeastern U.S. (not in Minnesota through Northern New England), and they do have a different functional role in the soil, since many of them live in leaf litter rather than consume it. This is why Great Smoky Mountains have a thick litter layer, even with about 12-14 species of native earthworms. The invasive European and now Asian earthworms are creating large changes there as well as in areas with no native earthworms.

You can find pdfs of my publications on earthworms, fires, windstorms, and other topics at my personal webpage (finally updated). Click on publications in the right column:
http://www.forestry.umn.edu/People/Frelich/index.htm

Also, the Center for Hardwood Ecology has been renamed the Center for Forest Ecology as of two weeks ago, and also has an updated website:
http://cffe.cfans.umn.edu/

Its time to attend to Thanksgiving activities--family members have made it through the snowstorm and arrived from Wisconsin.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Lee
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#6)  Re: European beech forests

Postby KoutaR » Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:41 pm

Lee Frelich wrote:My comments about forests 3 and 4 are that they look like a classic grazing lawn, where one species of short stature takes over in areas with high levels of deer grazing for at least several decades.


Lee,

I suppose you mean forests 2 and 4 (or photos 3 and 5): Jasmund and the first Hainich. You are definitely right about Jasmund: there are dense deer population, and as the park mainly consists of even-aged previously managed beech forest without undergrowth, the plots with canopy gaps and undergrowth must be loved by deers. Deers probably have impact on forest composition in Hainich, too, but to what extent, I am not sure. In Hainich N.P. there is a mosaic of different understory communities under beech forest, probably deriving from soil, slope, light etc. Besides Allium and Anemone, there are patches of Galium odoratum and Mercurialis perennis, for example.

Lee Frelich wrote:Regarding native earthworms in the U.S., they live in the southeastern U.S. (not in Minnesota through Northern New England), and they do have a different functional role in the soil, since many of them live in leaf litter rather than consume it. This is why Great Smoky Mountains have a thick litter layer, even with about 12-14 species of native earthworms.


There are really no litter-consuming earthworms in the whole North America? Can you explain this lack? The "European-style" earthworms must have a very ancient origin, and there were land bridges between Eurasian and American continents up to 5 million years ago. I searched quicly from your publications but they seem to be on earthworm-free areas.

Thanks for the Center for Forest Ecology link, as well. Pity, that there are not more photos.

Bob, I also examine every forest photo, American ENTS post here, with a great interest!

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#7)  Re: European beech forests

Postby Steve Galehouse » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:02 pm

Kouta-

Here is  photo of a mature beech woods in north-east Ohio, the tree in center about 13' in girth and 110' in height.
               
                       
Babb Run beeches.jpg
                                       
               


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#8)  Re: European beech forests

Postby KoutaR » Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:41 am

Thanks, Steve! The scene could well be from Europe. What are the rough-barked trees in the background?

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#9)  Re: European beech forests

Postby Steve Galehouse » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:22 pm

Kouta-

The rougher barked trees in the distance are likely red oaks. Here is another photo of a local woods, almost exclusively beech:

               
                       
beech woods.jpg
                                       
               


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#10)  Re: European beech forests

Postby hamadryad » Tue May 22, 2012 5:57 pm

So you like our Euro beeches huh! this one is an ancient, the white fungus is Aurantiporus fissilis. We have here in England a long long history of managing our woodlands, and therefore while our trees may not be tall because they was pollarded for early industrial enterprise they are the oldest and fattest of their species.

               
                       
Trametes suaveolens 2.jpg
                                       
               
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