Local- and regional-scale biomorphodynamics due to tree uprooting in semi-natural and managed montane forests of the Sudetes Mountains, Central Europe

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Abstract

In this work, direct and indirect geomorphic consequences of wind-related tree uprooting are examined, using an extensive dataset from the mountain range of the Sudetes, Poland. The role of local conditions in influencing the geomorphic efficacy of tree uprooting is examined, as well as issues of upscaling individual observations from experimental sites. This problem is approached at a range of spatial and observational scales, from monitoring of root plate degradation over time through to examination of wind effects at a slope scale and region-wide analysis. In our study area the mean root plate volume is between 0.4 and 4.2 m3 for spruce and 2.4 m3 for beech, and their degradation may last tens of years. The density of relict pit-and-mound microtopography varies from 2.7 up to 40 pairs per hectare and the maximum coverage of terrain is 4.7%. The volume of treethrow mounds varies from 0.5 to 3.1 m3 and mounds seem to outlive the pits formed in the same episode of disturbance. However, in specific lithological and topographic conditions, pit-and-mound topography does not form. The maximum biogenic transport attributable to a single windstorm event is c. 80 m3 ha−1, while soil turnover times are calculated in the order of 1000–10 000 years. Rock fragment ‘mining’ is an important biogeomorphic process, both in terms of impact on hillslope surfaces and on soil properties. Gravel armours and small-scale stepped topography may form instead of typical pit–mound associations in specific circumstances. Managed forests appear more prone to wind damage and associated geomorphic consequences. In the Sudetes Mountains, the variable role of tree uprooting in local and regional hillslope denudation is governed by forest stand structure, topography and regolith properties, with the former significantly influenced by human activity. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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