iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Multi-aged micro-neighborhood patches challenge the forest cycle model in primeval European beech

Eric K Zenner (1)   , Jerilynn E Peck (1), Volodymyr Trotsiuk (2-3-4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 13, Issue 3, Pages 209-214 (2020)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3309-013
Published: Jun 06, 2020 - Copyright © 2020 SISEF

Short Communications

As currently framed, the forest cycle model that underlies close-to-nature management in temperate beech forests throughout the globe specifies an orderly sequence of temporal development within even-aged patches comprising the forest mosaic. Although this model has been widely applied to European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests, the underlying assumptions of disturbance-induced even-agedness (i.e., within-patch age homogeneity) and competition-induced size differentiation (i.e., within-patch size heterogeneity) have not been tested in natural beech forests due to prohibitions on tree coring in primeval forest reserves. In a rare and unprecedented test dataset of spatially explicit tree ages in an old-growth European beech forest, we employed triangulated irregular networks of Delaunay triangles to objectively identify natural tree neighborhoods to determine if neighboring (i.e., within-patch) trees were even- or, at most, two-aged. Age differences among neighboring trees (summarized in 25-yr age classes) were rarely <25 yrs and mostly >50 yrs, while the few "even-aged" patches were very small (100 m2) and relatively young (<150 yrs). In this first assessment of the assumptions underlying the forest cycle model in European beech, we observed neither the even-aged cohorts expected for disturbance-induced patches in different phases of development, nor the size differentiation among similarly aged trees that should arise from the neighborhood dynamics of competition, self-thinning, and growth. The lack of patches indicating demographic turnover is fundamentally inconsistent with the forest cycle model as it is currently framed. We call for further exploration of spatially-explicit tree age datasets to determine the generality of these observations.


Age Reconstruction, Carpathians, Dendrochronology, Development Stage, Forest Cycle, Stand Development, Structure, Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN)

Authors’ address

Eric K Zenner 0000-0002-4884-593X
Jerilynn E Peck
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802 (USA)
Volodymyr Trotsiuk 0000-0002-8363-656X
Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamycka 129, Prague (Czech Republic)
Volodymyr Trotsiuk 0000-0002-8363-656X
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf (Switzerland)
Volodymyr Trotsiuk 0000-0002-8363-656X
Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich (Switzerland)

Corresponding author

Eric K Zenner


Zenner EK, Peck JE, Trotsiuk V (2020). Multi-aged micro-neighborhood patches challenge the forest cycle model in primeval European beech. iForest 13: 209-214. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3309-013

Academic Editor

Jesus Julio Camarero

Paper history

Received: Dec 03, 2019
Accepted: Apr 10, 2020

First online: Jun 06, 2020
Publication Date: Jun 30, 2020
Publication Time: 1.90 months

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